The Slice – Spring 2017

A Well-Rounded Education

In interviews, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning creator of Hamilton: An American Musical, often says, “Art saved my life.” Miranda is an ardent supporter of funding for the arts in public education. He also believes that the values learned through creative pursuits can apply to many parts of one’s life.

Palo Alto schools are lauded for having first-rate, award-winning arts programs. Donations to PiE help fund many popular and inspiring electives that might not be so broadly available if PAUSD had to rely solely on public funding.

Whether music, drama, or the fine arts, elective courses and the people who teach them can provide a source of strength and support for our students. They can help connect students with similar interests and create small, supportive communities within a larger school.

Source of Support, Inspiration, and Motivation

In this issue, two PAUSD students share some of what they gained from their elective experience beyond developing their creative talent.

Griffin Zajac, a JLS 8th grader, cites JLS Art Teacher Erik Bowman as a great source of inspiration, confidence, and support:

In the Art 1B class and in the Ceramics and Sculpture class I’ve taken with Mr. Bowman, I’ve found inspiration in Mr. Bowman’s own art projects. During each unit, Mr. Bowman teaches by example and creates his own piece of art while asking for input and ideas from his students. He also gives encouraging support, and the assignments are always open-ended enough that we have a lot of creative freedom. We’re constantly motivated to think outside of the box and to attempt something new and original.

Before I took the Art 1B class, I wasn’t as confident in my painting and color mixing skills, but we started out with basic principles and built upon them until I realized I was creating complex paintings and scenes I never thought I’d be able to make. Mr. Bowman’s class helped push me out of my comfort zone and forced me to try something I had not done much before. I feel that I can now paint in a variety of ways and see different colors and textures.


Some advice I would give to students taking any of Mr. Bowman’s classes is to take the opportunity to try something new and feel free to experiment. Art is a very relaxed and improvement-focused class where everyone is comfortable starting over, and it is important for students to enjoy themselves as much as they can. It shouldn’t be too hard to have fun with and learn from one of the best teachers in some of the best electives at JLS!


Through the Graphic Design elective, Lander Parish, Paly Sophomore, has transformed an interest into a potential career direction:

Although I’ve been working in digital art for the past three years, the Graphic Design elective was my first time taking a class on the subject. Most of the time I had focused on making art pieces, but by taking Graphic Design, I’ve learned my passion for creating things can have a practical purpose.


Graphic Design teaches you how to use professional programs and all the amazing things you can make with them. You work your way through the Adobe suite, starting with Photoshop and ending in After Effects. The start of the year you get to make things such as Google Doodles, flyers, and themed posters. The end of the year focuses more on making info graphics and the big animation which is the final for this course.


All of these projects, some more challenging than others, have been extremely fun and have taught me a lot about the graphic design industry. My advice for anyone interested in taking this class is to not be afraid to branch out and try new things and to make sure you stay organized with all of your files. Overall, it’s a great class to take if you have an interest in art, computers, and design.  


PiE Proudly Supports the Arts

In addition to providing a creative outlet and antidote to the stress of homework and academics, elective courses can boost self-confidence for students and spark passions they never knew they had. Many adults have a lifelong pursuit or even a career direction they first discovered through an elective class or early creative experience.

PiE is proud to help fund staff for classes in the arts and for other experiences that help students find their passions.

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