DURHAM – Superintendent James Morse and Principal David Goldsmith were pleased to welcome local ice sculptors to the Moharimet Elementary School to demonstrate their art for students as part of the school’s enrichment program.
Sculptors Dennis Hickey and Dave Soha of Ice Breakers, a Manchester-based company that has made sculptures since 1997, crafted a Moharimet Elementary logo and a snowman out of large blocks of ice as classes from the school took turns observing them in the school’s Sugar Shack, located in the woods not far from the school.
Each year at Moharimet Elementary includes a year-long focus on an enrichment topic. This year is the Year of the Artist.
The school changes topics each year, and past topics have included the Year of the Farmer, the Year of the Forest and the Year of Diversity.
The annual enrichment program seeks to give students opportunities for experiential learning that will engage them in hands-on activities focused on a specific topic.
“The enrichment program is one of the things that makes students’ five years here very special,” said Principal Goldsmith. “They get to experience five wide-ranging themes that they learn about throughout their time here, and they remember those experiences.”
On Wednesday, Hickey and Soha used chainsaws, chisels, heated metal plates, drills, sanders, and even a blow torch to shape and design the sculptures from blocks of ice.
Students in grades K-4 observed the creation in 20-minute intervals with their classes and teachers, asking questions, and checking out some of the tools employed by the artists.
The program lived up to the Oyster River Cooperative School District’s mission of “Working Together To Engage Every Learner,” with Hickey and Soha using a heated metal plate to fuse small pieces of ice together, and then challenging students to pull them apart.
Even Principal Goldsmith engaged in the action, trying with all his might to pull apart two blocks of ice.
Students were particularly impressed when the artists demonstrated how they use a blowtorch to melt the surface of the ice sculptures, making the ice nearly crystal clear after shaping and carving it.
“That’s really cool,” exclaimed a student as the artists heated the snowman sculpture.
The sculptors surprised both students and staff when a student asked how they got into ice carving, and both men reported being chefs. Hickey and Soha said they both learned to carve ice as a result of their work in the culinary arts, which often includes making ice sculptures.
A fourth-grader, Caroline, said she really enjoyed the demonstration because she likes the way art enables you to design different things, add little details, and make a larger creation.
Another fourth-grader, Antonio, said he enjoyed the demonstration, and likes art in general because of the way it enables someone to create something extraordinary out of ordinary things.
“I really like it because they just took this big block of ice and they made it into a creation. It’s very cool what they make of it and how it turns out,” Antonio said. “I like painting and stuff like this — using nature and making art with it.”
The Year of the Artist launched in September with an overview of what art is. In October students focused on community art, and each student made their own feather with paper and colored pencils, with all of the feathers later being added to a bulletin board to make a large set of wings.
In November, students focused on how art can impact change in the community and the world. In December, students focused on book making, with each student making their own book that they will now use throughout the spring.
To learn more about Ice Breakers, click here.