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Sculpture garden puts students in the spotlight

More than three years of plans, production and hard work have finally paid off for Alden Central High School with the blossoming of its student-run and -directed sculpture garden.

The sculpture garden includes two sculptures designed and assembled by students, including a fountain that was assembled with the help of Clarence artist Donna Ioviero.

High school art students frequented Ioviero's studio, Garden of Earthly Delights, to gain an understanding of Ioviero's copper fountains and enameled pieces before they created their own copper fountain for the school's newest courtyard.

"We wanted to empower the kids to experience new things," Ioviero said. "To work with the kids was very refreshing and exciting; the enthusiasm was definitely there."

The large copper structure is 8 by 6 feet and is a compilation of many student designs.

"The fountain was started four years ago when the current seniors were freshman," art teacher Mary Kozub said, adding that more than 90 students participated in the design process. "The kids presented different sculpture [designs], and we voted, but we couldn't decide."

That's when a subcommittee was developed, Kozub said, and the combination of three designs became the "Fountain of the Arts."

The large, pyramid-shaped fountain includes pounded copper lily pads, books and musical notes. Students did some of the manual labor, using sledgehammers to shape the copper pieces into the lily pads and plates.

Students created a second sculpture they titled "The Tree of Diversity," which Kozub said is meant to represent the diversity found in even the smallest communities.

"We have a wide variety of students, and yet they all belong to the same unit," she said. "We all coexist, and collectively we are stronger. This was really a collaborative effort."

The "Tree of Diversity" consists of four sections made of semicircles forming the tree's trunks and leaves, Kozub said, including 40 different leaves created with glass sandwiched in between them to represent the individual members of the high school's student body.

The sculpture garden also includes two heart-shaped tulip beds: a red bed cared for by SADD, Students Against Destructive Decisions, and a pink bed cared for by Youth Against Cancer and Friends of the Planet, said Principal Kevin Ryan.

Students Nicole Aldinger and Meghan Czajka have watched the garden grow from their freshman to senior years.

"I have really enjoyed watching it go from its first stages and now seeing the garden out there [in the courtyard]," Nicole said. "Since it started when I was a freshman, and now I am a senior, it really shows our development."

Nicole and Meghan are both art enthusiasts and wanted to be sure their sculpture incorporated all the arts Alden has to offer.

"I feel proud that I actually participated in something that I can look back on," said Meghan, who is involved in chorus, art and theater. "As a senior, this is what I can leave the classes to come. This gives our school a unique sense of unity."

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