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June 10, 2009 > Magic at Delaine Eastin Elementary

Magic at Delaine Eastin Elementary

By Simon Wong
Photos By Courtesy of Glen Gilliam

Art Vistas docents (trained parent volunteers), Union City's Delaine Eastin Elementary students and teachers hosted their first Annual Gallery Night and fundraiser on May 29. Attendance figures at this event would be the envy of many professional galleries or museums.

Every child that has participated in the Art Vistas curriculum displayed at least one piece of artwork. The difference between these students and those without the benefit of a fine arts program in their schools is art appreciation and a trained eye. A seven year-old boy was overheard speaking ex tempore with an adult about Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night."

The Parent Teacher Club's and Associated Student Body's decision to fund Phase I of the Art Vistas program, when grant funding failed to materialize, has enriched the lives of these youngsters. This academic year 70 docents and helpers have taught 649 students in grades 1-5 and some special education.

Grade 3 children and their teacher Debbie Brazeal produced a quilt through her "government" class. Each child drew a symbol, such as the American flag, the American eagle, George Washington's profile, etc, on fabric using waterproof colors and assembled the quilt of 20 patches. There will be a book about the project.

Brazeal and her pupils wanted to donate the quilt to American troops but were unsure how to do this. Through a series of connections, the problem was solved. James Logan High School alumnus and Iraq War veteran Glen Gilliam coaches Little League baseball in Union City; Sam Sprotte, younger son of Kate Sprotte, who is one of the school's Arts Vistas coordinators, plays Little League baseball.

Gilliam and his fiancee, Tracy Flores, both served with the 25th Infantry Division (ID) out of Hawaii until Feb 2009. Gilliam and Flores decided that one of them should leave the army to care for their daughter Violet. Flores remains in Iraq. Gilliam returned home and is re-training in motorcycle mechanics.

When Sprotte mentioned the quilt, Gilliam asked if it might be sent to the men and women of the 25th ID who are deployed for a year. Everyone agreed.

"I know so many of the soldiers. They miss their families. My fiancee left when Violet was only 6 months old. The quilt will always hang in one of the unit's hangars while they're over there. It means a lot to me and I know it'll mean a lot to the members of the 25th ID. Every package from home is like Christmas Day for those who are serving," explained Gilliam.

The program has educated its young students, given them an appreciation of others' sacrifice and brought parents together. Prior to this project, they were merely acquaintances. Success is attributable to the docents' and teachers' commitment and enthusiasm and the generosity of donors. Some have helped financially and others with materials and equipment.

On Gallery Night, Diane LaMountaine, President of non-profit Art Association of the East Bay, awarded a $500 grant toward Phase II of the Art Vistas program. New Haven Unified School District supports the program but is unable to contribute funding.

Besides financial aid, the program needs folio cabinets used by architects to store plans, storage bins for posters and prints, tupperware tubs, paper and art materials.

Checks, payable to "Eastin PTC - Art Vistas," can be mailed to Delaine Eastin Elementary School, 34901 Eastin Drive, Union City, CA 94587. Alternatively, call (510) 475 9630. To send an email, visit www.eastinptc.org and click on the "Contact Us" link.

For more information, visit www.artvistas.org, www.eastinptc.org and www.artassociationeastbay.com

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