YAYA artists bring inspiration to two Chalmette campuses _lowres

Photo provided by St. Bernard Parish Schools -- Rontherin Ratliff and Luis Colmenares collaborated on the 16-foot stainless steel sculpture of an owl in the Chalmette High School student courtyard.

Young Aspirations Young Artists is working with two St. Bernard Parish public schools to emphasize the role of the arts on campus.

At Chalmette High School, a 16-foot stainless steel sculpture of an owl in the student courtyard was designed by Rontherin Ratliff and fabricated by Luis Colmenares.

To design the sculpture, Ratliff said, “We asked the students what made them proud to be from St. Bernard. The vast majority of them pointed to Chalmette High School, so the owl became an obvious choice.”

“The fact that our students identified the owl as a symbol of parish pride is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our students, parents and teachers,” Principal Wayne Warner said. “We are so proud to have a sculpture of such magnitude that our students helped create in our courtyard to remind us every day of why we are here.”

At C.F. Rowley Alternative School, YAYA artists are holding weekly art classes. During a recent class, the artists pushed students to reflect on their strengths and create a pictorial representation of the characteristics, activities and ideas that best represent what makes them who they are.

Rowley Principal Andree Bonnaffons said the partnership is a true gift.

“This partnership allows us to offer this opportunity to all of our seventh- and eighth-graders,” Bonnaffons said. “The creative outlet the art program provides to students who need to learn various and appropriate methods of self-expression is beyond measure, as it not only taps into a part of their brain that they do not always use, but it also allows the students to test the positive peer-interaction techniques that we facilitate and model on a daily basis.”

“The thing I like the most about the YAYA class is it’s a place where you can go to be free,” eighth-grader Jordan Ronsonette said.