This article originally appeared in the Saturday, Dec. 5 Radford News Journal.
RADFORD — Benny Nicola’s Pizza in Radford held a pizza party for Dalton Intermediate School students on Dec. 1 to showcase their hard work.
Pizza boxes served as canvasses for the students at an art show displayed throughout the restaurant. Kristy Bryant, the art teacher at Dalton, said she was thrilled with the partnership between the business and school.
“I was contacted by Amanda Ostrander from Benny Nicola’s Pizza about using their pizza boxes to create holiday-themed art. My student teacher Kellen Keys and I jumped at the opportunity,” Bryant said. “I thought it was a neat way to combine the community and the students in an effort to work together. It promoted our program and got our artwork out into the community for people to see. It was just something a little different.”
The task was to take a pizza box and transform it into a piece of art.
“We then had our seventh and eighth graders approach the project as commercial artist hired by Benny Nicola’s to transform their pizza boxes,” Bryant said. “I think it is great for our school arts programs to get exposure in the community. My students have such talent, I welcome new ways of showcasing it. I also think exhibiting art work in the community is a great way to motivate and excite younger children about the arts.”
The kids were broken up into groups and given the freedom to create whatever they imagined. Some group took the pizza theme literally and displayed holiday inspired slices, while others transformed the boxes into holiday scenes. One group created a fireplace out of the boxes.
“I was blown away with the creativity and craftsmanship they displayed. I love the diverse variety we received. Some are great advertising pieces for Benny’s and some are beautiful winter paintings,” Bryant said.
Once the restaurant saw the final products, they were quick to invite the class to a free pizza party to celebrate. Each child was awarded a giant slice of pizza.
“It was wonderful to see the students and families come out and enjoy pizza, friends, and artwork,” Bryant said. “Overall, it was a great experience for the students and a great way for our school to partner with a local business.”
Bryant’s art class offers the kids an outlet from their usual full slate of core classes. When they enter her room, Brant hopes to give them a space where they can find relief.
“Art helps them express themselves. The environment is so different from their core classes. I love teaching art. I feel very privileged to share my passion with students and be a part of their creative experiences on a daily basis,” Bryant said. “I think it’s a way for them to be expressive and creative. With this project, they were really excited. It was fun to watch their faces and see them point out their projects to their families. I would be open to doing this again with other businesses.”
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