Creating an Outdoor Puppetry Classroom A Creative Project Brought to Life by RW Allen, LLC, Puppetry Project Students and Their Families, Dr. Renee Kelly, Ms. Angela Sneed, and Ms. Debbie Brown

In Fall, 2014, a group of Middle School students at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School decided to build puppets. They formed a club called the "Puppetry Project".
Several days a week after school, they met to design puppets that would perform the story of "Anansi and The Bag of Salt", as written by students in Drama 3. They sorted themselves into groups, according to their skills and interests, and together decided the personality of each puppet, the type and size it would be, how it should move, and how to make it "come to life".
Ideas for a human-size puppet of Anansi, the spider.
Ms. Brown and "Turtle".

By Spring 2015, the Puppet Project became an official class when 45 students enrolled for the following year. We needed more space, tools, room for storage, workbenches, and good lighting.

Behind the Visual Art Building was a space that could work. Best of all, it overlooked the Augusta Canal. We were inspired!
The space was the right size but had not been used in a long time.
The Puppetry Project students and their friends organized a clean-up. Families came and helped recycle old scrap metal.
With the junk moved out, we began to plan the kind of space where Puppeteers would feel inspired and creative!
Ms. Brown drew some ideas on her iPad...
We wanted colors to be fresh, modern, and inspired by nature...

Next, we made a list of improvements the space would need in order to be safe and comfortable in the warm months. We estimated that we would need about $10,000. And then an opportunity arrived...

Several Davidson Art students received awards for the national Congressional Art Competition, Georgia, District 12. Vaughn Hilsheimer receives the First Place Award from Congressman Rick Allen.

Congressman Allen took an interest in our need for an additional classroom. As Founder of the R.W. Allen, LLC in Augusta, Congressman Allen and Principal / President & COO, Scott Clark, together with their suppliers, donated material, labor, and expertise to make an outdoor classroom possible.

An amazing donation by Lowes/Aiken of a locking tool cabinet will make it so much easier to keep track of tools and save them from rusting.
Sanding down each tabletop made us consider all the hands that had worked there in the past. The polyurethane finish deepened the grain and brought out each mark's unique story. What a difference the blue lockers made!
All the vines were cut from the fence for proper ventilation. Two giant fans on either end of the room created a constant breeze. Even on 104 degree days, it was very pleasant to work here.
New fluorescent drop-lighting brightens the work areas.
Retractable extension cords over the workbenches! No more searching for a plug or tripping over cords!
Hanging on the old fence was a welded gator who became our mascot. Thank you Bryant Electrical Contractors for bringing him to life!
Things are almost in place. The mesh screening on the fence (left) is designed to reduce the amount of wind and rain that blows in while directing the flow of air for cross ventilation.
A new roof was built over the old kiln storage area.
Before & After (old kiln storage area)
Before & After - Main Classroom. In the before photo, you can see the very wide fenced gate. It was removed and a new gate with an emergency door was custom-built for us. You can see it in the After photo.
Outside the main gate, the area is cleared and the junk removed. A mason has volunteered his time to put in a brick walk, connecting the emergency door with the curb, making it much easier to take out the garbage! This area has garden potential!

The final stage of this project is to create a walkway between the emergency gate and the curb.

Mason, Keith Nichols and his crew got it done in two days...

bartering the old gate for paving bricks, a work crew, and his expertise.

We are grateful for Keith's community minded spirit and proud, once again, to be recycling.

NEXT PROJECT: Create an "Artist's Garden" for all Visual Art students to use for drawing and painting.

Ms. Brown's iPad drawing of a dream garden.
We discovered an old patio!
Maybe a central brick path with a garden on sides...
While pruning out the dead wood on the inside of these bushes, Ms. Brown discovered a unique space with an unusual view to draw... Perfect for an Artist's Garden.

We invite you to join us in designing and building an Artist's Garden this Fall. Can't wait to get started!

The Puppetry students of Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, together with their families, the Richmond County Board of Education, Dr. Renee Kelly, Principal, Ms. Angela Sneed, Assistant Principal, and Visual Arts Teacher, Debbie Brown give our heartfelt thanks to the generosity and support of RW Allen LLC and these companies...

Created By
Deborah Brown
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