On May 28 the well-known Spoleto Festival USA sprang to life in Charleston – and will continue until June 8.
However, Spoleto is not just making an appearance in Charleston. On May 28 Oakbrook Elementary School put on its own version of Spoleto – dubbed Oakie Spoleto – and the whole student body was involved to celebrate art and learn a thing or two about economics.
This was the second year the whole school has put on the event. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. artists, dancers, performers and musicians took over the campus. Presenters included professional artists and performers as well as student art and performing groups.
Fifth-grade gifted and talented students set up vendor booths where they got to display artwork they made themselves – and sell them to their peers. Students made crafts from drawings, bracelets, charms, hair pieces, book marks and even flip-flops.
Susan West, who teaches one of the fifth-grade gifted and talented classes, had a booth set up herself, and was selling handmade jewelry. Harry Potter-themed bottle cap necklaces were a big hit among students.
“I started making jewelry just as a hobby, selling and auctioning it off,” she said.
Susan’s daughter Ashley West, an opera singer and former Oakbrook Elementary student, was also part of the festival, singing to groups of students inside the school building.
Susan said her students have been very excited about the festival. “I think it’s an opportunity for them to learn about economics and supply and demand,” she said. “They get to see how money is spent in the real world.”
One of her students, fifth-grader Walter Banks, was at one booth helping sell drawings and rocks that his classmates found. The rocks were special stones, such as tiger’s eye, crystals and fool’s gold.
“They were hard to find,” Banks said, adding he enjoyed selling them in the festival. “It’s pretty fun.”
Fifth-grader Bradley Cotner has been drawing since he was a 4-year-old, and was working on different sketches of people and animated characters. Drawings were being sold at varying prices. The students got to keep the money they made off their crafts.
Cotner said Spoleto was a good opportunity to showcase his work.
“It shows our creativity a lot,” he said.
Inside one classroom art teacher Daniel Bryant showed two films to students – a short animated film called “Oakie the Bear” and a second called “The Battle Bears.” The latter film’s cast was made up of a selection of Oakbrook students and teachers.
“I think they did an awesome job,” Bryant said about his students in the film.
The school’s media center was transformed into an art gallery that featured pieces created by all the grade levels (not for sale). During the tour, of the library students got to check out a slideshow of student photos that were taken throughout the school year.
Leslie Davis-Brantley, instructional technology specialist, said this year’s Oakie Spoleto was bigger than last year’s.
“I think they (the students) get more exposure to different forms of art, especially from the community,” she aid. “It’s important to harness that creativity.”