Once upon a time, two visitors arrived at the kingdom of Sunrise Elementary School bringing music, art and fun for the children of the land.
Or, more accurately, Ron and Marsha Feller of the Feller’s Arts Factory spent three days teaching the Central Valley School District students about the art of making paper masks and writing a song to go with their projects.
The theme of the lesson the fifth-grade students learned Monday was medieval times. Students could make masks of princesses, wizards, knights, kings, queens or jesters.
“They are all made basically the same way,” Ron Feller explained to the students.
Each mask was made by folding construction paper in half and tracing half of the face and half of the forehead along the “line of symmetry,” or the fold of the paper.
Students cut along the traced lines and unfolded the paper to reveal something that didn’t quite look like a face until they folded the forehead down over the eyes giving the mask a three-dimensional effect.
They could then cut out other shapes for hair, crowns, beards, helmets for the knights, eyes, lips and anything else they wanted to add to their masks.
The Fellers said they have been making visits to elementary schools for about 36 years. Based in Spokane, they also travel to cities such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles to teach students there how to make masks. Ron Feller estimated they see about 30,000 to 40,000 students a year.
They spent three days at Sunrise, not only teaching the students how to make their masks, but showing teachers how to make pop-up cards with photographs.
The school’s Parent Teacher Organization raised the funds for the Fellers’ visit. The group also provided some supplies the school may not have had.
Thad Frater, PTO president, said the Fellers have been to the school before and he was surprised he had to book the visit about a year in advance.
Fifth-grade teacher Rachelle Ahumada said when she was a student at Broadway Elementary the Fellers came to visit them, too.
The students had a lot of fun creating their masks, putting their own creative spin on each one.
Anna Gabbert, 11, made a mask of a jester with a blue face. “I always want to go out of the box,” she said.
Her desk mates, Makenzi Denniston, 10, and Emily Wasson, 11, each made princesses. Wasson said she was going to give her princess some earrings. “Mine’s going to have a crown,” Denniston said.
Joshua Adams, 11, made a knight. “I like to study medieval times,” he said.
Brandon Phelps, 10, and Gurjot Atkar, 10, also created knights. “I like their armor and the weapons they use,” Phelps said. “I like their weapons and the battles that they do,” Atkar said.
Fifth-grade teacher Jan Tyson said the visit helped the kids not only to express themselves, but to incorporate that with poems and songs.
“The skill and the talent they have…giving it to the kids is definitely a blessing,” Tyson said of the Fellers. “To have them create something out of the ordinary is beneficial.”
When the students were finished with their creations, they joined the Fellers in the school library to write a song for their characters.
The song revolved around a princess and a prince who rode up to her tower on his valiant steed. The prince asked the princess to marry him.
They lived happily ever after.