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Elkins Mountain School art on display

Submitted photo Artwork by Elkins Mountain School students is on display this month at the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library.

ELKINS — William Shakespeare’s poetic language inspired the drawings and projects displayed for April’s Poetry Month celebration at the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library.

During a cross-curricular unit in English class that combined history, art and Shakespeare, Elkins Mountain School students in grades nine to 12 were challenged to draw while listening and reading the vivid language of a speech given by Mercutio from the play “Romeo and Juliet.”

Students willingly plunged into “Macbeth” followed by “Hamlet” through the use of the No Fear Shakespeare version, videos of performances in original language, a graphic novel representation as well as a pictorial titled, “Favorite Tales from Shakespeare” by Bernard Miles.

Students enjoyed wearing period hats while reading parts from each play. Overall, students were impressed by the language, plot and the dark themes of Shakespeare, according to a news release.

The staff of the Elkins Sewing Center collected and then donated plastic fabric tubes and cardboard forms left over from the fabrics purchased for the Mountain State Forest Festival. With a little metallic paint and lots of brilliantly colored duct tape, they were repurposed into swords and shields sporting family crests students designed with an online interactive program during the research activity.

Heidi Jeffries, language arts instructor at the Mountain School, said she was inspired and determined to learn more about how to teach Shakespeare.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity to display my students’ work at the library during Poetry Month,” Jeffries said. “Our students are with us for a short period of time, so I was pleased that several of the artists were still with us to view their pictures and projects on display for the public. These at-risk teens strongly relate to the themes of family, young love, betrayal, despair, ambition and loyalty. They fell in love with the stories and characters. Many of them are artistic and enjoy the opportunity to draw and create.”

She continued, “As their teacher, I really want to become better at presenting Shakespeare in a way that will benefit them.”

Jeffries plans to attend the Grand Valley Shakespeare Festival Conference in Michigan next fall to learn from Michael Lo Monico, senior consultant on national education for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., who shows his passion for Shakespeare by writing, speaking and leading workshops for teachers and students in the United States, Canada and England.

Established in 1987, Elkins Mountain Schools is a private, nonprofit organization that provides residential treatment to male youth ages 13 through 17. EMS also contracts Youth Services with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. At the Main Campus in Elkins, EMS provides a level III residential program to 44 youth; and at Oak Ridge near Leading Creek, a 15-bed level II residential program. All youth attend the Main Campus on-grounds school administered by the West Virginia Department of Institutional Education Programs.