MUSCATINE, Iowa–In art, and in life, patience pays off. Since spring, teacher James Hayes has worked to bring new pottery wheels to Muscatine High School’s visual arts program. Despite a number of setbacks, Hayes secured funding for the new equipment, and soon students will have opportunities to use the new wheels to grow their creativity and artistic technique.
Near the end of last school year, Hayes began looking for ways to add two new pottery wheels for Muscatine High School art students to use. As he searched for ways to pay for them, he discovered the Muscatine Walmart Community Grant Program, which allows area schools and non-profit organizations to apply for funding for a variety of projects. Hayes applied and learned in April that he would receive the grant. Thrilled to receive the funds, he extends his thanks to: “Terri Benner, Muscatine Walmart Store manager, for information on the grant. It is nice to have opportunities for our community programs to get funding help for projects that reach a large segment of our population.”
Though Hayes now had the means to purchase the pottery wheels, the COVID-19 pandemic put a wrench in his plans. Because of school closures and the challenge of creating online learning opportunities in art, he did not have time to order them or the ability to set them up at the high school. “Unfortunately with the total COVID shutdown, we couldn’t get into our rooms–also with trying to adjust to teaching art virtually, I had to put the purchase on the back burner.”
Despite having to put the new pottery wheels on the back burner, Hayes never let the spark go out on his dream to eventually get them up and running during the 2020-2021 school year. When school resumed in the fall, Hayes ordered the new wheels. They arrived in early November and Hayes has gotten them installed and ready for use. Though students cannot access them while Muscatine High School utilizes online learning for all students through Nov. 24, he has them prepared for when students return. “The nice part is that we have them here to use when we can get students back to school,” Hayes said.
When students return to the studio, the new pottery wheels will help them expand what they can do when working with clay. Along with making simple pottery by hand, such as pinch or coil pots, they will also have the opportunity to make wheel thrown pieces, such as pots, bowls, dishes, mugs, and vases, just to name a few. The new wheels will also allow several students to learn and practice wheel throwing techniques at a time, helping more students learn and enjoy this art form.