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Local Art Students Make Lifelong Gifts for Vulnerable Children

Art students at New Glarus High School participate in Memory Project


February 8, 2018

Art students at New Glarus High School have joined the Memory Project, a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers and their students to create and donate portraits to youth around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as neglect, abuse, loss of parents, violence, and extreme poverty. Given that youth in such situations usually have few personal keepsakes, the purpose of the portraits is to provide them with meaningful mementos of their youth. The project also allows art students to practice kindness and global awareness while enhancing their portraiture skills.

Students at New Glarus High are participating as part of the Painting and Advanced Painting courses, as well as volunteers from the Foundations I course. Students that participated are as follows: Freshmen: Peyton Mendelski, Breckin Faber and Jackson Schiro. Sophomores: Heather Niceschwander, Mckenzie Nyhus, Grace Barnaby, Emily Bartow, Maci Carney, Kallie Ace, Logan Leuthner, Karstyn Rossing and Daniyah Farley. Juniors: Josephine Eubanks, Anika Beutler, Lexie Krause, Stacy Benoy, Kyle Kempfer, Faith Bump, Lily Tews, Mackenzie Weiss, Chrissy Tackett, Nina Schiro, Claire Hodel and Tessa Sheridan. Seniors: Willow Lee, Morgan Kirch, Caitlin Wieser, Gabrielle Whisler, Julia Barnaby, Sierra Whisler, Olivia Xistris-Songpanya, Cullen Brooks, Emily Elkins, Walela Three-Sticks, Riley Fritz, Lauren Raskovic and Hailey Raymond. A few students, Julia Barnaby, Stacy Benoy and Faith Bump, have volunteered to help with more than one portrait. You may have seen one of Julia Barnaby's portraits at the Monroe Clinic, which is currently featuring artwork from the New Glarus School District. Some of these students were involved last year when New Glarus volunteered to do portraits of children in Colombia.

After students had the opportunity to decide if they wanted to create a portrait, numbers were emailed to The Memory Project. Within days, a packet of 44 children's photos were delivered along with some background information about these children and the history of Syria. Students listened intently to the history and circumstances, asking many questions about Syrian culture. The Memory Project provides each teacher with a plethora of information about the country as well as how students can get involved in aiding refugees. The ages of the Syrian children range from six to thirteen years old.

Despite many of the students being in the painting courses, the media in which the portrait was created was the artists' choice. Finished portraits were created in acrylic paint, watercolor paint, colored pencil or graphite. Portraits are required to be 9" x 12" and flat for delivery purposes. Each New Glarus student posed for a photograph to return with their handmade portrait as well as a little informative note, in English and Arabic, telling their first names, ages, and favorite colors. Once finished, the Memory Project delivers the portraits to the children. In total, the students will make portraits for 44 children in Syria.

Alongside the portraits, photos of New Glarus students working on the portraits are mailed. Once the artwork is delivered to the Syrian children, The Memory Project sends Mrs. Winters Hanson a video montage of the kids receiving the portraits. Watching the Syrian children see their portraits on video has been a favorite part for New Glarus students.

Each portrait from The Memory Project costs $15.00. This is being paid for through a donation to the High School Art Department from several years ago, but if you or anyone you know would like to donate to the Art Department, please contact the school. If you'd like more information about The Memory Project, or to donate directly, you can visit

The Memory Project is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Middleton, Wisconsin. Since the project began in 2004, more than 100,000 American art students have created portraits for children in 44 countries.


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