Cumberland Elementary students show off our ‘Wonderful World’

Published 12:29 pm Friday, November 10, 2023

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In October, Cumberland County Elementary School students let their “Imagination Take Flight” to decorate the entryway of the Longwood Center for Visual Arts (LCVA). Now they hope to inspire others to do the same. 

With the Virginia Children’s Book Festival taking place during the second week of October, the LCVA needed a new display for their entryway. The group contacted Emily Overstreet, Cumberland County Elementary School’s art teacher, in August to see if she could work with her students to create something to encompass the theme of this year’s festival. The annual event at Longwood University is designed to promote literacy and give away books to children. 

Overstreet, who is a Longwood University graduate, worked with her students to create their display of “Let Your Imagination Take Flight.” 

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“We were all excited to show our little artists off,” said Overstreet. “We have many talented artists here.” 

For the project, the students combined art, music and literature as they were inspired by the lyrics of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” The students listened to the song as they painted and made the paper mache decorations. And it was an involved process, as students worked from the first day of school until Friday, Oct. 6, when Overstreet put up the display at the LCVA. 

Overstreet said she did her best to make sure as many of the 500 students at the school could participate as possible. That includes even some preschoolers, who have their handprints decorating some of the hanging hot air balloons. Other preschool students even helped with some of the painting, including work on Duke the dog. We’ll share more about him in a minute. 

Wonderful World Cumberland Elementary

Student Emma Bowles is shown here with her “Dream Big” hot air balloon.

Cumberland Elementary offers a look inside 

When you walk into the LCVA, the finished project is on a sky-blue wall, one painted with clouds. Making up the scenery are paper mache students, a dog, flowers, birds and hot air balloons. There are also paintings by students covering the wall, showing scenes of the “wonderful world”, with hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling. We referenced Duke the Dog earlier. He and his paper mache student sit in front of the paintings on a bench. Duke, named for the Cumberland Elementary “Dukes” mascot, sits while his student reads a book next to him. 

“We put up balloons and added decorations because they have to be creative,” said Sariya Robert, who is in second grade at Cumberland Elementary. 

Sariya enjoyed decorating her hot air balloon as she covered it in hearts. She wanted it to be inspiring and show how wonderful things are and how everyone is family. 

Third grader Emma Bowles also enjoyed covering her “Dream Big” balloon in stars. She liked being creative and using everyday items to bring this project to life. One of the examples she gave was using a laundry basket as the basket for a paper mache girl to ride in. 

“We wanted to represent how we have a ‘wonderful world’ and all the things that are great,” Emma said. 

Along with getting out of class, both girls expressed that their favorite part was decorating the people. They enjoyed thinking creatively when coming up with how to display their work and what they wanted it to say. 

“I hope the showcase inspires young artists and nurtures their creativity,” said Overstreet. “So much is done on computers these days so I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase all these student’s hard work at the Longwood Center for Visual Arts.”

Wonderful World Cumberland Elementary

Student Josiah Merritt is shown painting a hot air balloon basket.

How long does this run? 

The hot air balloons and imagination aren’t going anywhere soon as the exhibit will be on display through November. The LCVA is located at 129 N. Main Street in Farmville and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., then Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. 

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the November edition of Farmville the Magazine. The print copies hit the streets at the end of next week and you’ll be able to find them in businesses throughout town. And while you wait for the print edition, here’s a look at the Issuu version of the magazine.