Gateway Student Mosaic Project Funded By Online Donations

Seventh-grader Felix Branham uses classical design inspiration to create a Garfield mosaic. The students studied the unique patterns and images of mosaics created during the Roman and Byzantine empires as a guide in creating their own unique mosaics. MIRROR PHOTO BY NANCY GAGNET

BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Classical mosaics from the Roman and Byzantine empires have inspired works of art at Gateway Middle School.

Social studies teacher Mandie Bentz encouraged her seventh-grade students to carefully study the unique patterns and images of mosaics created centuries ago for inspiration in creating their own unique mosaics. 

After finding an inspiration mosaic, each student then created a computer image on a Google spreadsheet. Using that pattern as a guide, the students applied tiny glass tiles on artboard to create their mosaic art.

“They were willing to look at the classical inspirations they chose and do a lot of reworking and refining,” said Bentz “Many of them overcame some pretty intense frustration as they tried to figure out how lines interacted and which colors were best. The finished products have been incredibly fun and unique.”

Approximately 100 seventh-grade students from “Team Valor” participated in the mosaic project.

“I have been super-impressed with them,” said Bentz. “They have engaged in a lot of our makerspace process – think, design, improve. I don’t think there is one student who is creating a tangible mosaic with the first design they came up with.”

The cost of materials for the project was $900 and was funded by DonorsChoose, on online fundraising platform that teachers often use to pay for special projects. For the past 10 years, Bentz has utilized DonorsChoose as a way to fund multiple projects, with many of the same donors consistently stepping up to contribute to them.

Michael and Liz Horlick, of Hyattsville, Md., contributed a large portion of money needed for the project in honor of Michael’s mother, the late Mary Horlick, who was an artist and supporter of community art.

“Liz and Michael from the Washington, D.C., area have consistently donated to our projects,” Bentz said. “We have done a lot of cool stuff with them. Michael’s mom was an artist and she was very involved in a lot of public art where she lived. They contributed the lion’s share of the cost of the mosaic project, and many other donors helped us complete it.” 

The mosaic project was funded within a 24-hour period. In addition to the Horlicks, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation matches each donation. 

Bentz has been using DonorsChoose since 2008 to complete projects that are outside her classroom and personal budgets. She has raised $13,618 and completed 27 projects through the website.

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