News and Features

Art&Seek Jr: Photo Project Helps Hexter and Hook Schools

As I gumpily stuffed 26 tiny envelopes last night and groused about the pathetic heart stickers that are supposed to close said envelopes, I thought to myself, “Why are we doing this? What is the point in 7-year-olds celebrating Valentine’s Day?” My attitude got worse as it got closer to bedtime. The assembly line had backed up as my daughter struggled for the right valentine for each classmate. “Boys don’t get Monster High valentines, Mommy! They get the bug valentines!” Heavens. What was I thinking.

All you need is love. Photo Kim Flores-Swenson

Later, after Rose went to bed, I took my griping about Valentine’s Day online to Facebook and was whipped up even more by friends who shared my disdain for the holiday and the teensy valentines that go with it. By 10 o’clock I was a full-fledged Valentine’s Day Grinch.  Then, like the Grinch, I saw something that made me rethink the meaning of Valentine’s Day. While catching up on my e-mails I came across a press release for a special fund-raising project at Hexter Elementary that melted my hard Valentine’s Day heart.

The release told of a unique idea assistant teacher Kim Flores-Swenson came up with to help with the school’s annual silent auction. Together with fellow teacher Marisol Castellon, Flores-Swenson enlisted students from  Hexter’s bilingual and FLS (Functional Life Skills) classes and came up with “Hexter Hearts Hook,” a series of black-and-white photos taken to help promote kindness and goodwill. The top 26 photos were selected to honor the children and staff from Sandy Hook Elementary. Proceeds will benefit Hexter Elementary, and Flores-Swenson will send a donation to Sandy Hook for each photo purchased.

Students from Hexter Elementary help raise money for their school and Sandy Hook Elementary with the Hexter Hearts Hook project. Photo: Kim Flores-Swenson

“I’m passionate about kids and I have family in Connecticut and not to mention, the Sandy Hook incident took place on my mother’s birthday who has since passed,” Flores-Swenson said in a news release. “Children are such an inspiration and part of the healing process and our art project seemed like a perfect fit and opportunity for our students to experience.”

Besides helping to raise money for their school, Flores-Swenson says the kids learned about the artist’s point of view and that art can have an impact in their community no matter what the age of the artist.

Like the Grinch, I think I found the true meaning of Valentine’s Day.

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer.  Additional information on the “Hexter Hearts Hook” project or the Hexter Elementary Silent Auction can be found at: kim@kimflores.com or hexterpta.org/silentauction .