After School Enrichment Program

May 17, 2012

Kids Express

Lisa Wheeler is an artist and art educator who has been working with an afterschool program called Kids Express. The program was held at the A.S. Hall School in Waterville. She believes that art and other content should be connected. The information below, in Lisa’s own words, describes the program.

Kids Express is an after school program of arts and culture serving up to seventy 4th and 5th graders a year at the Albert S. Hall School in Waterville. Started in 2006, it has always had a strong visual arts component. Each year the program seeks to produce at least one piece of public art that is given as a gift to the school. It begins as a joint effort among the student artists in a given class.

During the spring session of a Printmaking class, teaching artist Lisa Wheeler was approached by 4th grade teacher, Mrs.Dunn, about Atlantic Salmon. You see, the entire school is learning about the life cycle of Atlantic Salmon on the Kennebec River. All 250 students have been watching salmon eggs gestate in a special aquarium in the school lobby, excited that the eggs finally hatched in late March. Mrs. Dunn asked Mrs. Wheeler if there was some way to incorporate that into a printmaking project. “I was thrilled to be asked to participate in this school-wide learning activity, long believing that a collaboration with other content areas provides extra value in learning for the students and also an extra boost for the arts.” says Mrs. Wheeler.

The hand-printing processes lent themselves perfectly to this group project. Student artists each created multiple trace monotypes of Atlantic Salmon which were cut out to be used on a large collage. They learned about reverse printing of words as they created hand stamps of the words ‘Atlantic Salmon’ and ‘Kennebec River.’ They assembled the cutouts onto a large piece of illustration board that had been stamped over a bright turquoise paper river. The result is a colorful piece that exemplifies the natural relationship between art and science, a piece that already has student artists proudly saying, “I made that one!” and one that will join the other pieces of public art in this special school. And hopefully this hands on learning project will have the students “swimming” with knowledge.

Follow-up: As a follow up to the science part of this story, the salmon eggs were released last Friday morning, 5/4, and the Waterville Morning Sentinel ran a photo of the students on the front page. Exciting stuff!

Thank you to Lisa Wheeler for sharing this story for this blog post.


  1. Beautiful integrated arts project!

  2. Nice job, Lisa! What a fabulous project! Thank you for including my daughter in this experience!

  3. We’re so fortunate that you share your time and talent with our students! Thanks!

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