La Jolla artists help students make gift for school

The fifth-grade class at Bird Rock Elementary teamed up with Bird Rock artist Jane Wheeler and La Jolla artist Kathryn Stephens to design, create and install the students’ gift to the school. Each year, the fifth-grade class creates a project as a permanent gift, which helps beautify and improve the school campus.

This year’s project — a sundial and mosaic sun — is called “Radiate Creativity Through You.” The artists worked with the students and teachers to stamp their names in clay and create fused glass pieces for the rim of the mixed media sun mosaic. Measuring 4 feet in diameter, it features three haiku sundial poems created by each of the classes that circle the phases of the moon.

The second phase of the project is a working human sundial painted on the ground that teaches students how to tell time with their shadow. Bird Rock Elementary parents Daria and Tony Buonassisi, both mathematicians, used the ellipse formula, chalk, string and a mobile GPS to calculate the exact location of latitude and longitude for the sundial along with true north — showing math in action. Parent Sandy Solis assisted along with photographer/parent Pearl Preis, who documented the process on film and made it into a slide show.

Stephens and Wheeler are “alumni parents” whose children attended Bird Rock five years ago. They created a starfish-shaped mosaic bench with artist Marlena Poulin for their children’s fifth-grade project and were commissioned to return this year.