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Patton Elementary School Earns Elevate the Arts Grant for Hot Air Balloon Sculpture

This week, the American Girl Company announced that AISD’s Patton Elementary School is one of 13 across the nation to receive the Elevate the Arts grant. The grant contest asked elementary school art teachers and their students to creatively illustrate—verbally and visually—the importance of having art in their schools. The catch was that contestants had to incorporate the theme of a hot air balloon into their entries. Winners were selected based on efforts, artistic merit and effective expression of the theme.

The contest was inspired by the story of the newest American Girl Doll, which is how the idea first came to the attention of art teacher Stacy Colston, or rather, a fifth grade student in her class.

“The student was so motivated,” Colston said. “So I sat down to figure out how to incorporate this into our lesson.”

Colston realized they could work the hot air balloon idea into what they were already doing in class with Chihuly-style sculptures—large sculptures made of blown glass. The students had been working on similar art pieces using plastic bottles.

“The whole school got into it,” Colston said. “They love Chihuly sculptures.”

The fifth graders learned to weave newspaper baskets, which they attached to a large, multicolored Chihuly-inspired orb that created the look and feel of a hot air balloon.

Colston said she wants to use the $2,500 grant to install a tile mural in the front of the campus that the entire school can help construct. Doing so, she said, will create a more welcoming environment for visitors and be a great excuse to invite back the fifth grade class, now sixth grade middle school students, to celebrate the fruits of their labor.

As for the hot air balloon, Colston hopes it will remain on the Patton Elementary School campus indefinitely—forever a part of Pioneer history.