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Students create doorways to diversity

December 20, 2008

From Suburban Journals

Instead of a jolly, fat Santa with a Christmas tree, a plump, smiling Buddha under the Bodhi Tree greeted students outside art teacher Amy Roesslein’s classroom door.

The papier-mache Buddha formed the centerpiece of a three-dimensional tableau illustrating Bodhi Day, a Buddhist holiday usually celebrated Dec. 8. It commemorates the day Buddha attained enlightenment while sitting under a pipal tree 2,500 years ago. The tree became known as the Bodhi Tree.

The scene was one of 34 entries in a holiday door decorating contest Dec. 8-12 at Francis Howell Central High School. Students chose holidays from 12 cultures and religions, then created doorway scenes illustrating them.

“I think our door is awesome,” Roesslein said.

Roesslein’s art club students assembled the scene, incorporating bright lights and ornaments associated with Bodhi Day.

Junior Josh Gibbar, 16, said he had to repair the scene every day because the purple and red wall coverings kept falling down. But he thought the work was worth it.

“It’s a very festive door,” Gibbar said. “The colors bring you in. It has a joyful and cheerful mood that gets you motivated to be enlightened.”

Senior Becca May, the art club president, selected the Bodhi Day theme.

“The point of the contest was to learn about a new holiday, and I had never heard of Bodhi Day before,” said May, 18.

Visual arts teacher Lisa Milos organized the contest. Milos sponsors the cultural diversity club.

“The point is to show there are many more holidays in the month of December besides Christmas,” Milos said.

Junior Rachel Mann, 16, a member of the cultural diversity club, was one of the contest judges.

“I was really impressed,” Mann said. “I was looking for creativity and effort. I asked the students how much they knew about the history of their holiday.”

Milos said she was pleased with the effort everyone put into their doors.

“Staff and students stayed late and brought in supplies from home,” she said. “People really went to the max. I did not expect them to be this elaborate.”

The art club’s Bodhi Day display tied for second place with a Kwanzaa door created by communication arts teacher Kelly Gerdiman’s students.

First place went to another Bodhi Day door created by communication arts teacher Sara Martens’ students.

Two doors tied for third place: a Virgin of Guadalupe door by art teacher Bob Storts’ graphic design students, and an Eid al-Adha door by special education teacher Nicole Fodo’s problem solving and mathematics students.

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