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Mann Art Project To Benefit Haiti

Handmade items will be auctioned at Ten Thousand Villages.

As art teacher Casey Florczak walked around the unkempt classroom, fifth-grade students at sat at long tables, surrounded by beads, glue, scissors and heaps of scrap paper.

Latin music from a laptop permeated as the students honed in on their artwork — paintings, collages, jewelry and more. The somewhat messy, noisy controlled chaos served as the creative backdrop for a new student-powered charity project that will benefit Horizon of Hope, a children's home in Haiti.

Klemp, a second-year traveling art teacher for District 97, has led similar programs last year at Two faculty members there, Diane Conmy and Kathleen Priceman, had told her about the Haiti group.

"I thought it was a good idea, and I wanted to be a part of it," she said. "And I was interested in getting the kids involved in a fundraiser."

And so her art students, about two dozen 10 and 11 year olds, have been creating artwork that will be displayed for auction at, 121 N. Marion St. in Oak Park.

Ella Bartt, 11, was gluing and rolling strips of scrap paper blotted with watercolor to create beads for an impressive couple pieces of jewelry. Francis Rinaldi, 11, was patiently placing a pattern of colorful beads on a string to make a necklace. James Kennedy carefully stenciled numerals on construction paper that would later become crucial numbering for items bound for auction.

Toward the back of the classroom, a trio of girls were selecting images from National Geographic magazine to include for pasting on multi-purpose boxes.

"We've been looking for specific things like landscapes and rocks. We of course have deserts," said Ellie Zazycki, 11. "Hopefully people will buy them at the auction. It's actually pretty awesome."

Florczak said the students have taken a lot of pride in helping others across the globe.

"I think because they're coming to middle school, there's this tendency to focus on yourself, like 'Who am I going to be in middle school?'" she said. "But this has been a chance to put themselves in a more global context and to do something for people that need help."

The Hope for Haiti auction begins June 1 at Ten Thousand Villages, 121 N. Marion St. in Oak Park.

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