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San Antonio ISD students create public art

LAvaMore than 20 gifted and talented students from across San Antonio ISD gathered in Travis Park in downtown San Antonio this past weekend. The budding artists sat at easels, painting colorful designs on blank canvases as they took part in Art Everywhere. This Centro San Antonio program celebrates art and artists by incorporating their art into the public realm.  


"I am so excited to be here today to see my students face-to-face and be able to create art that is going to be a positive influence in the community," said Brittany Smith-Moczygemba, Gifted and Talented Instructional Specialist.  


The SAISD students creating the artwork, which will eventually be installed on historic buildings in downtown San Antonio, are part of the District's LAVA (Leadership and Visual Arts) program. The program’s mission is to identify students with exceptional potential, educate them in their unique areas of giftedness, engage them in experiential learning opportunities, and prepare them for a fulfilling future.  


SAISD's LAVA program was made possible by a five-year federal Javits Grant.  


"Typically, this grant is not awarded to school districts. It is given to state departments of education or universities," said Liz Ozuna, executive director of Advanced Academics. "But I think because our proposal was unique, they awarded us the grant. Our proposal was to identify students with high potential in the visual arts and leadership and then create a program that would serve to help them develop and express their identified potential."   


The LAVA program is in the fourth year of the grant. SAISD is currently transitioning the program back into the District’s gifted and talented program. LAVA currently services Briscoe Elementary, Woodlawn Academy, Harris Middle School, and Burbank and Jefferson high schools.   


"By selecting schools that were in the same feeder patterns, we have been able to track these students' progress as they moved through the program over the past four years," said Ozuna.   


Isis Santos, a Jefferson High School freshman, has been participating in the LAVA program for the past three years and never says no at the chance to create art.  

"I love creating art because it has no boundaries,” said Santos. "If you want to do art your own way, you can. You can put your emotional being into it."  


Andi Rodriguez, Centro San Antonio's vice president of Cultural Placemaking, was all smiles as she admired the student work.  


"The power of having art in the public realm is so emancipating. It really makes you feel like you are part of something larger; you are part of the community and the world," said Rodriguez. "Art needs more artists, so cultivating young artists like these here today is so incredibly important.”   


Lily Rocha, Briscoe Elementary School third-grader, stayed at the park for hours, creating a self-portrait while her parents watched proudly from behind the canvas.  


"I like art because you can be creative with everything," said Rocha. "When you have an idea, it doesn't have to be perfect." 


Click below to watch a short video featuring the LAVA program.


LAVA Video

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