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Northridge students’ art and stories on display at Kauffman Museum

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Kauffman Museum at Bethel College kicks off a year of exhibitions and programs commemorating the 150th anniversary of Kansas statehood with a new special exhibition of artwork by local children.

This fall, children from Northridge Elementary School (the college’s neighborhood school, just south of the railroad tracks from North Newton in Newton) used official state symbols and historic artifacts as the basis for integrating social studies, art and writing. The result is an exhibit called “KANSAS: Kids At Northridge Sharing Art and Story.”

USD 373 teachers Gail Pryce (writing and drama) and LaDonna Unruh Voth (art) led the KANSAS project in collaboration with Bethel College students enrolled in “Teaching the Expressive Arts.” Pryce, Voth, Denetta Denno (physical education) and Brian Postier (music) met weekly with college students at Northridge to work with children from kindergarten through fourth grade.

The KANSAS project included learning about pattern (Honeybee Quilt), shape (Cheyenne Parfleche), color (Ornate Box Turtle), texture (American Bison) and proportion (Prairie Grasses). Students used techniques including drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking and collage.

Writing exercises focused on short stories (Four-Season Scarecrows), poetry (Sunflower Cinquains) and songwriting. Northridge students will perform their song “Oh, I Think My State Is Great” at Kauffman Museum’s “Celebrate Kansas Day!” Jan. 29, 2011.

“True integration occurs when the arts are merged with other curriculum to provide a richer, more engaging learning experience for children,” Voth said. Pryce added, “Collaboration ensures that the expressive arts are no longer taught in isolation, but become part of the total school curriculum.”

Pryce and Voth have been integrating social studies, writing and art with their students for more than 10 years. In 1997, their efforts focused on Northridge Elementary students researching and then depicting “Famous Kansans” for a full-size quilt, on display at Kauffman Museum each January as part of the annual celebration of Kansas statehood.

The “Teaching the Expressive Arts” class at Bethel College is also practicing collaboration and integrated instruction. Explained Pryce, “We want the students to be able to ‘learn by doing.’ We know this type of integrated instruction works.”

An artists’ reception for Northridge Elementary School students will be held in January at a date to be announced. The special exhibition “KANSAS” is open at Kauffman Museum now and will be on display through Jan. 30, 2011.

For more information on the Kansas sesquicentennial, visit, which serves as a portal to events, programs and resources for commemorating the 150th anniversary of statehood.

Kauffman Museum, located on the Bethel College campus at 27th and North Main Streets in North Newton, is open 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tues.-Fri., and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It is closed Mondays and major holidays but will have extended hours in December – open Thursday, Dec. 9, and Thursday, Dec. 16, until 8 p.m. with free admission after 4:30, and open Monday, Dec. 27, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Admission to the museum, which also includes admission to the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information about Kauffman Museum and the KANSAS exhibition, contact the museum at 316-283-1612 or see

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