Riley School students celebrate the act of making art through May

‘Band of signal flags in this storm’ decorate downtown Rockland fence

Thu, 05/21/2020 - 8:45am

    A string of artful flags, created by the children at the Riley School and representing positive messages of hope and love, is currently on display at the top of the Harbor Park in Rockland. 

    Last week students at the Rockport independent school, ages 2-15, and their families, worked from home with guidance from Riley Art Facilitator Alix Martin. 

    A prearranged scheduled day was arranged to pick-up art materials at the Riley campus. A day off from Zoom classes was planned to create the art at home with family.

    On Friday, May 8, the flags were taken back to school and shared with others in a car parade with children displaying their flags, around the loop of Riley School driveway.  Teachers and staff, dressed in festive clothes and face coverings, stood along the edge at a safe distance cheering them all.

    Traditionally, the school celebrates a week dedicated to the arts during the month of May, with workshops and studio visits, culminating in a performance style finale.

    The arts are an important part of the curriculum at Riley and some children may have up to four art classes a week.  Classes are mainly driven by student’s interests and with the encouragement and guidance of Alix Martin. 

    Children often work with clay, build outdoor sculptural pieces, set up an area for figure drawing, hand sew clothing and work in individual notebooks.  Often large collaborative projects are created.  And there is an increasing element of art and poetry.  

    Martin envisaged this project as a, “band of signal flags in this storm, creating sparks of light amidst these shadowy days.”  

    Head of Riley School Becky Clapp thanked the city of Rockland, especially David Gogel, who is director of Rockland Maine Street, and Riley parent for cooperation in finding a place for displaying the flags for the community to see.  

    In addition to designing a flag, the children were asked what they were grateful for and how art can make the world a better place.



    “It brings joy.  It makes me feel peaceful.” Elyse Coleman, age 9, Owls Head

    “It makes me feel like I can do something and it’s calming and it’s peaceful.” Julia Staples, age 9, Appleton

    “You can make whatever you want.” Ramona Simons, age 5, Rockland

    “It is so cool and you can do it in so many ways.”  BC, age 6, Tenants Harbor

    “I like art because I can express my feelings better...I think you can do a lot of stuff with art...without art I couldn’t build all the things I build.” Maddox, age 9, Rockland

    “There are lots of things...I have so much things I am grateful for.  I am grateful for all the people in my whole entire family.”  Ossian, age 5, Rockland 

    “I am grateful for art.”  Ian MacDonald, age 6, Rockland

    “Art makes the world a better place because it takes your mind off things.  It is relaxing and enjoyable.  You can put your thoughts and creative thinking on paper or other things.”  Rosalie Murphy, age 11, Camden 

    The Riley School guides children to become independent, lifelong learners and innovative thinkers. Founded as a progressive, ungraded elementary school in 1972, Riley recognizes each child’s unique learning style. The individualized curriculum challenges children to express themselves and develop their own intellectual and creative capabilities through experimentation, discovery, and vigorous engagement. 

    Accredited by the New England Association of School and Colleges and the Maine State Department of Education, Riley School enrolls children K - 9th grade, and  2–4 yrs for the Wade Acres pre-school program. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2020-21 school year. For more information visit and call the office 207-596-6405 to schedule a visit.