published Saturday, April 9th, 2011

24-hour brainstorm

Stephanie Whiting, Grant Little and Tara Jacek collaborate about ideas in the UTC Fine Arts Center during a CreateAthon. Students and professionals will create designs solutions for Dalewood Middle School.
Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Stephanie Whiting, Grant Little and Tara Jacek collaborate about ideas in the UTC Fine Arts Center during a CreateAthon. Students and professionals will create designs solutions for Dalewood Middle School. Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press

While most folks slept, plans for design improvements at Dalewood Middle School churned in the minds of 32 UTC students.

The university’s first CreateAthon onCampus, which began Friday at 10 a.m., is a 24-hour creative blitz focused on improving the learning environment at the school by displaying student work and improving school appearance.

“It’s all about showcasing student accomplishments,” Leslie Jensen-Inman, assistant professor of art, design and technology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said before the blitz. “I don’t know how it will turn out. I don’t know now what I’m going to know in 48 hours.”

The project is a collaboration among students enrolled in the professional practices class in the UTC Art Department, CreateHere, the Urban League of Chattanooga, Hamilton County Schools and local businesses.

The event will have more than a physical impact on the school, Dalewood Principal Rodney Johnson said.

“The goal was to show the kids here that the community does care about them, to show them that somebody that doesn’t know you cares about you,” he said.

The projects, according to Jensen-Inman, will include creating a physical gallery space in the school’s art room, turning islands in the school’s lobby into student display areas, creating an online space for student artwork, improving a data wall that Johnson created for tracking student scores and documenting the project.

The 32 students, who returned to UTC to work after a pep rally at the school, were divided into teams for the project, she said.

While the students are doing the work on each project, Jensen-Inman said 43 area professionals in public relations, social media, the Web, print design, writing, architecture and organizing are alongside them at times for support and guidance.

“The professionals act as mentors,” she said. “They’re like teammates. There are things you just don’t know [as a student] that you learn when you work for a real client.”

Jensen-Inman said the 24-hour session is all about “capturing the moment and the energy ... about pushing through. It’s a really huge bonding experience. There’s something about the emotional state of sleep deprivation. You think if you can get through 24 hours, you can get through anything.”

Johnson said the CreateAthon is just “one spoke in the wheel.”

“We want to help students to create self-pride in themselves and in the school,” he said. “We want to create opportunities to show the kids they can do other things, they can dream right now.

“They have very little hopes or desires or dreams about the future. This is a vehicle we want to use to help develop these abilities.”

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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