Our Creative Genius in the PS Election
While real-world politics rage across the United States, students at Presbyterian School are engaging in their own campaigning and election. In an effort to educate all Presbyterian School students about the unique electoral process that characterizes presidential politics in the United States, Presbyterian School will hold its second election in school history on November 8, 2016.
During the 2012 presidential election, Presbyterian School initiated a plan to run Pizza (from the “Party” of savory, hearty, and greasy) against Cupcakes (from the “Party” of sweet, sugary, and sinful). Over 600 faculty, staff and students two-years-old through eighth grade voted for their favorite choice on Election Day 2012.
While the 2012 PS election mirrored the Presidential election in scope and mechanics, PS made no pretense about its relative importance in the grand scheme of things. Just don’t tell that to the Pro-Pizza Super Pac called Students for a Tastier Tomorrow that formed in the Middle School who were aggressively lobbying for its candidate with advertisements such as, “Because this School Deserves More than Just Sugar and Flour,” “So Much more than Just Cheese,” “A Cupcake Win would be Tough to Swallow,” and “Don’t Let them Shove Cupcakes down Your Throats.” Overnight, students turned into lobbyists and campaign strategists.
Four years later, the lobbyists and political strategists have returned for PS Election 2016. While the electoral process hasn’t changed, the candidates certainly have! Our Creative Genius fine arts elective class has put forth new candidates to consider.
Studying the notion of creative genius, seventh grade students examined the following questions: What does genius look like? What does genius sound like? With the resources of the School and city at the class' disposal, students met with experts and conducted interviews, listened to great music, examined masterpieces, and embarked upon in-depth research to define genius and identify individuals who could fit into this category. The class brought up many notable individuals including Jim Henson, Dr. Seuss, Walt Disney, Shel Silverstein, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Elvis Presley.
The class voted to elect Dr. Seuss as the creative genius to represent the “Visual Arts” party and Elvis Presley as the creative genius to represent the “Performing Arts” party. Dr. Seuss and Elvis Presley will go head to head for the title of Creative Genius in the PS Election 2016. All Presbyterian School students and faculty will have the opportunity to vote.
Campaigning will begin in earnest at the start of the 2016-17 year. Each homeroom, advisory group and school office will be assigned a state with the requisite number of electoral votes—e.g., a Beta class could be assigned Alaska with three electoral votes, Ms. Fox’s third grade class might be Louisiana with eight electoral votes, Mrs. Hall’s eighth grade advisory could be Pennsylvania with twenty electoral votes, etc. In this manner, students will get a true understanding about how our country’s electoral process works, the impact of campaigning and the differences between electoral college votes and popular votes.
Different people use different criteria to describe genius. Exceptional originality, superior intelligence and expert creativity are just some of the facets of genius. Students in the Creative Genius class have created candidate profiles, class activities and other promotional materials to use for the PS Election 2016. Each grade will have the opportunity to not only learn about what genius is (as citizens evaluate what a president/leader should be), but to also learn more about the two candidates running for creative genius. All students will engage in grade-level appropriate activities targeted at learning more about each candidate.
It is our hope that students will gain an appreciation for the peaceful transition of power in the United States and why participating in elections are so important. Mostly, though, we hope students will think deeply about exactly what makes a genius, just as we hope voters think about what will make a good leader.
Meet the Candidates
Performing Arts Creative Genius Nominee
Elvis Presley, also known as the King of Rock and Roll, was perhaps the most influential person in the history of that genre. Presley, a significant icon in American culture during the 20th century, came from a humble background yet managed to steal the hearts of his generation. This rock and roll musician captured the attention of onlookers with his own flair and dance moves. Elvis’ unique rhythms were a result of many styles of music he was introduced to as a child. One man, Elvis Presley, created a foundation for musical artists to come.
What is a creative genius? Most believe that being creative is thinking outside of the box. A genius is generally someone with a high IQ. So how does Elvis Presley, a man without an extremely high IQ, fit the title of being a creative genius? As Nancy Andreasen, the chairwoman of the Department of Psychiatry puts it, “Some people see things others cannot, and when they are right, we call them creative geniuses.” Elvis, in his own right, saw something that the rest of his generation could not.
The majority of the white population in Elvis' time period was blinded by prejudice and shunned anything that was related to African Americans. Elvis Presley may have had some prejudice against another race, but he lifted his blindfold enough to see the value of a different viewpoint. The African Americans had a contrasting style of music that Elvis introduced to his generation by combining African American jazz with what was contemporary at the time. The product of this fusion was the foundation modern singers would build upon.
So was Elvis right? Yes, I believe he was.
Candidate endorsement written by Nora Lawless (Class of 2017)
Visual Arts Creative Genius Nominee
Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, commonly known as “Dr. Seuss,” was a famous author and cartoonist, who wrote children’s books. He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Seuss’s illustrations appeared on different ads, and as time passed, his artwork began to appear on magazines, such as Life and Liberty. In 1956, Seuss was awarded a doctorate from Dartmouth University. He pursued his writing career and wrote many successful books such as The Cat in The Hat, The Lorax, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
Dr. Seuss is a creative genius because he wrote multiple books that have been translated into twenty languages and have sold over half a million copies. His books are used every day to help young people, including toddlers, learn how to read. Overall, Dr. Seuss is a creative genius because he made children’s literature and reading fun, and he gave people a good laugh.
Candidate endorsement written by Robert Gonsoulin (Class of 2017)
An Art Walk In Our Neighborhood
What is an Art Walk? Art Walk is defined differently in different communities. Some define it by signs and walkways; others define it by museum nights or a showcase and celebration of the best galleries, artists, and photography; and still others define it by life size displays of public art.
How does Presbyterian School define it? Third and fourth grade students brainstormed what they felt an Art Walk should encompass. Students came up with a vision of an Art Walk that would include sculptures (functional and interactive art), gardens, murals, buildings, events, vehicles, bus shelters, trash cans, fountains, newsstands, plantings, walkways, bike racks and seating areas... just to name a few things.
Before bringing their vision to life, students discussed with Lower School Art Teacher, Jacqui Chaltain, the parameters of legal vs. illegal art and public vs. grafitti art. Students researched on their iPads various forms of public art and art zones.
Following their research and study, students embarked upon a series of walks around the Museum District to examine the art that is already present. With iPads in hand, students documented on camera what other artists have contributed to the area. These included museum buildings, natural landscape, architectural structures, sidewalk art and the like. Students also identified possible sites for future public art… places where art could or should be added to the neighborhood. Students considered places that would inspire public art such as buses, cabs, sidewalks, empty lots and buildings with negative graffiti. Where could art transform or uplift the neighborhood? (Check out the slideshow of students on a neighborhood photo shoot)
Teeming with ideas from their walk around the neighborhood, students came back to the Lower School Art Lab ready to put their vision to action. Students broke up into teams and moved into a design phase. Each of the teams took one of 4 zones of the Museum District to create an Art Walk. Students began working on designing mock, small scale additions of public art for their designated Museum District neighborhood zone. Each student on the team created his or her own public art contribution. Students' art included a variety of media such as clay, recycled materials, plastic, wood, and plaster wrap.
Through creating an Art Walk for their neighborhood, Ms. Chaltain hopes for students to gain an awareness and knowledge of how to advocate for change in their community, whether it’s for the arts or for another important need. In regards to giving her students a voice, Ms Chaltain shares, “I want my students to have a platform on which to stand, to develop ideas, see the possibilities of what’s there and what they can do.” This has been her driving impetus for teaching students how to examine their resources and how to have productive and good conversations with others to develop ideas for the future.
Many thanks to the Ruth and Ted Bauer Family Foundation who donated $25,000 to support the fourth grade iPad initiative this year at Presbyterian School. This support enabled the faculty and students to participate in this innovative interdisciplinary exploration, synthesis and application of knowledge. We are grateful to the Foundation for their gift.
3rd and 4th grade students will complete Art Walk 2013 before the year concludes. The Art Walk will then go on display at Presbyterian School in October 2013. The exhibit will demonstrate the Art Walk process, including photos from the photo shoot walks around the Museum District, as well as the studednts' projects in drawings from the design charette. Stay tuned for the grand opening!
Presbyterian School Holds An Election
While real-world politics raged across the United States, students at Presbyterian School engaged in their own campaigning and election. In an effort to educate all Presbyterian School students about the unique electoral process that characterizes presidential politics in the United States, Presbyterian School devised a plan to run Pizza (from the “Party” of savory, hearty, and greasy) against Cupcakes (from the “Party” of sweet, sugary, and sinful). Over 600 faculty, staff and students 2 years old through 8th grade voted for their favorite choice on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6.
Each homeroom, advisory group and school office was assigned a state with the requisite number of electoral votes—e.g., Mrs. Tipps’s Alpha class was Alaska with 3 electoral votes, Ms. Sutton’s 3rd Grade class was Louisiana with 8 electoral votes, Mrs. Moran’s 8th grade Advisory was Pennsylvania with 20 electoral votes, etc. Students quickly learned about the Electoral College and the differences between electoral votes and the popular votes.
Students also learned a lot about the state their class represented. For instance, Ms. Stuckey's 5th grade advisory learned that 1/2 of the nations peanuts are grown in one county in Alabama, but their state nut is the pecan! In 1931, Birmingham, Alabama got its first airport and it took 19 hours to fly to LA! And do you know why Alabama has voted Republican since the 70's?
While the PS election mirrored the Presidential election in scope and mechanics, PS makes no pretense about its relative importance in the grand scheme of things. Just don’t tell that to the Pro-Pizza Super Pac called Students for a Tastier Tomorrow that formed in the Presbyterian Middle School and was aggressively lobbying for its candidate with advertisements such as, “Because this School Deserves More than Just Sugar and Flour,” “So Much more than Just Cheese,” “A Cupcake Win would be Tough to Swallow,” and “Don’t Let them Shove Cupcakes down Your Throats.” Overnight, students turned into lobbyists and campaign strategists.
While the Republicans and Democrats assembled to rally for their candidates, PS students were found doing the very same! PS held a General Convention Assembly on Monday, November 5. All students were in attendance showing their partisan favor for either cupcake or pizza. Amidst the screaming support, it was hard to tell who would win the popular vote, let alone the electoral votes!
Here what our voters had to say....
On Election Day, November 6, 2012, Presbyterian School faculty and students had a hard decision to make. Would it be cupcake or pizza? Each state (a.k.a homeroom/advisory) administered their voting individually. Some students had to go into a voting booth while others had to show an election clerk identification to receive a ballot. Whatever the means, the end result was a ballot cast for either cupcake or pizza.
By 10:30 a.m. all PS Polling Centers were closed, ballots were submitted and the wait began...Tensions were high as students began to informally poll their peers. What did you vote for?
After a restless night of election angst, students arrived bright and early on Wednesday to hear the PS Election results. Headmaster, Dr. Carleton, televised his broadcast so that all PS constituents could hear the good news.
Cupcake won the election with 299 electoral votes (Pizza received 239 electoral votes). Election 2000 history appeared to repeat itself at Presbyterian School with the winning candidate losing the popular vote! Cupcake received 271 popular votes while Pizza received a whopping 343 popular votes. But as the Electoral College determines the winner, Cupcake was declared the victor.
While staunch Pizza supporters were dismayed at the results, they conceded the win to Cupcake graciously.
Cupcake made an appearance at Presbyterian School to show his gratitude to his supporters. On his first day in office, Cupcake fulfilled his signature campaign promise of providing cupcakes for everyone at the school for "being such strong and loyal voters."
And it was done! All students enjoyed a cupcake to celebrate Election 2012.
View more pictures from Election Day 2012