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Putting the Pieces Together at North Salem Middle School

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Phase two of the Puzzle Project was vigorously tackled in the middle school cafeteria last week. Each member of the five eighth-grade classes received a foam-core puzzle piece, to be shaped in accordance with the class theme.

North Salem’s Puzzle Project is but a small piece of a large concept devised by Tim Kelly of the Art is Good movement. Simply put, each person creates an artistic self-expressive puzzle piece, based on an assigned theme. The pieces from each class are assembled into a mural, to be displayed locally. Eventually, the murals, originating from many parts of the U. S., will make their way to Kelly’s California base, where he oversees distribution to other parts of the world.

Fine Arts teacher Lauren Gardner explains, “One point is to see how we fit into the larger community of the world. For instance, what issues are eighth-graders talking about in Germany?”

The mission statement, created under the guidance of English teacher Karyn Johnson , states, “The Class of 2016 is unique, intelligent and energetic. We are active members in sports, the arts, school, the community and in our homes. We want to make the world, our community and our environment better for future generations.

“We contacted parents who work in marketing to get some advice for our mission statement," Johnson continued. "And we examined the mission statements of companies like Apple and Nike. The kids brainstormed their own ideas and strengths and involvement in community. We put it all together to express how we want to be perceived.” The Puzzle Project is a multi-disciplinary endeavor combining English and Art.

In Phase One, the eighth-graders planned their designs for their puzzle pieces.

Now in Phase two, eighth-grader Amanda Siciliano created a puzzle piece based on engineering and math. “Our theme was academics and I want to be an engineer,” she explained.

Paige Werlau, whose class theme was social and family life, illustrated “different things you do with your friends and family. A family walking together in the park, a beach and an airplane to represent vacations, and a camera, and some makeup, to show what I do with my friends.” She added a bow to tie everything together.

Dominique DeAngelis, also focused on social and family life, illustrated things she does with her friends and added a picture of Justin Bieber.

Kelsi Ryan, created an athletics-based collage. “I like to play soccer,” she explained, so she painted a picture of a soccer ball and added pieces of actual soccer net for a three-dimensional effect.

The overall project was generously funded by the North Salem Foundation for Learning, to whom Gardner submitted a grant proposal. Supplies were donated by the Brewster, New Milford and Danbury Home Depots. Parents donated collage material and some know-how.

In the next phase of the Puzzle Project, the student-designed pieces will be fitted together to create murals for display around the North Salem community.

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