MILLTOWN — Fifty-five eighth-grade students from Christ the Teacher Catholic School made their way to St. Mark’s High School in a visit that was intended to memorialize the present while possibly looking toward the future.
The students were at the school to work on clay tiles that will be part of a memory wall at Christ the Teacher’s new gymnasium, and to get a look at St. Mark’s, just in case they hadn’t decided their next destination. St. Mark’s also has a kiln, which is necessary to make clay tiles.
The eighth-graders brought photos of themselves to the high school, where they worked with art teachers Lisa Bantz of Christ the Teacher and Maria Merritt of St. Mark’s. They transferred their pictures to a slab of clay, and added texture for hair, glasses and noses. The finished products will be delivered back to the school.
“The whole idea is to memorialize who was in the school during the construction project and to have a memory wall,” Christ the Teacher assistant principal Steven Adams said. “All 610 students will have the opportunity to make a self-portrait or design on a clay tile. They will attach them on the wall that leads to the new building.”
Only the eighth grade worked on the project at St. Mark’s. The school partnered with Creation Station in Middletown to help with the rest of the students. Creation Station will fire the tablets in its kiln and send them back to the school.
“Each grade has learned it at its own pace and its own ability level. The older students were able to learn about more detailed self-portraits, using their pictures to create a more detailed image of themselves,” Adams said.
Sam Denning said he has worked with clay before, making volcanoes. He had to make some last-second adjustments to his clay portrait.
“At first I liked how it turned out. But at the end, my eyes didn’t look right, so I just used my pinky finger to make two pupils,” Sam said.
Although he is disappointed the new facility won’t be ready before he graduates, he likes the idea of his class being memorialized.
“I think it was a really good idea putting our faces in the new gym,” he said.
His classmate, Jordan Trala, smiled at the thought that future Christ the Teacher students will know who was there before them.
“Our tiles are going to remain in CTT most likely forever, and CTT is a very welcoming school. I’m grateful to attend it. I guess I’m really proud because I’m going to be in the new gym, and students can pass by and be like, ‘That’s the Class of 2019,’” she said.
Jordan considers herself the artsy type, but she had not worked with clay before. The eighth-graders practiced at Christ the Teacher, but it was with a different material. Clay, she said, “is much more sensitive when you’re trying to do the details. I liked the clay better.”
Although rain had caused some delays, and there were a few minor design changes, the project was still on target to be completed in the summer of 2019. The current eighth-graders and others will be invited to the dedication.
“We’re going to invite them back for the dedication, probably in the fall. We plan in the fall, probably at the Thanksgiving break,” he said.