Dayton High School and Junior High is bringing art to new levels in the i3 Center. With new opportunities arising in the metal and woodworking departments, students are creating more projects with a wider variety of available mediums. They are crafting with a level of confidence that they never had before.

Dayton is showing its students that any craft is an art and that in the new creative economy, empowered artistic expression is becoming more and more valuable.

Earlier in the school year, Innovations and Robotics teacher Patrick Verdun brought his passion for lacrosse to his classes at Dayton. He is an alumni of Southern Oregon University and played lacrosse there. Currently, he participates in a club called Old Souls Lacrosse, which connects current and past lacrosse players from Southern Oregon University for tournaments in Ashland and works to make the sport more accessible for every student. Dayton now has an ongoing partnership with the club. With funding provided by Old Souls Lacrosse, Dayton is making them custom merchandise — and each unique item is made by a Dayton student.

The students are creating laser engraved woodwork, plasma-cut metalwork, and even Christmas ornaments; all arts from completely different areas of the i3 Center.

Custom wood merchandise

Dayton School District was open to the partnership and recognized how valuable this experience could be for students. Dayton’s partnership with Old Souls Lacrosse is opening the door for Dayton to pursue more partnerships in the future and is encouraging students to participate in the creation of these products that will be purchased by customers. As Mr. Verdun explained: “When kids have the opportunity to make something of real value for a business or company, they are doing something bigger than themselves.” This real-life component adds a huge element of value to their learning experience.

Students are seeing value in this partnership because it is much more than just a school project. It is an outlet for creative students to craft unique and personalized items for a real-world purpose. With the added accessibility to creating projects like this due to more interactive learning opportunities in the i3 Center, students have become able to make the partnership their own. This energy and dedication is making partnership projects much more available for a wider variety of students and allowing them to find a deeper meaning in all art projects.

Charlie Hascall is the new Mechanics instructor at Dayton School District and he has seen student creativity grow in the time that he has been working there. This year, students are seeing all of the different forms of art come together, providing them with an interesting new perspective. Mr. Hascall says: “Art isn’t just a painting. We’re going to break that notion [at Dayton]. As far as I’m concerned, if it has function and flare, it’s art.” Many Old Souls Lacrosse items made in the i3 Center were even featured in this year’s art show, regardless of what medium they used or what department they were made in. This recognition is shaping the Dayton experience for its students.

Dayton’s i3 Center and all of the new learning opportunities within it, are being recognized both inside and outside of school. They are even attracting customers from the community. In doing so, the experience becomes that much more real and impactful for each student.

With the school district’s support, community support, and support from local businesses and organizations, Dayton students are creating with purpose. They are also being given the resources to see art from a broader perspective and understand the vast applications of art in the new economy.

Bevin Schrag Administrator

Bevin Schrag is a writer for Innovate Oregon. While working in social media and marketing at OnlineNW, she is currently studying the arts at Chemeketa Community College, to later become a media designer.