Found art and a Rube Goldberg contraption were fun features of Black Butte School’s presentation. photo by Diane Goble
Found art and a Rube Goldberg contraption were fun features of Black Butte School’s presentation. photo by Diane Goble

Black Butte School's spring program theme this year was "Found Objects & Unnecessary Things." A capacity crowd filled the Camp Sherman Community Hall Thursday evening for an annual event that brings old friends and good food together in support of the school staff and the students.

This year, Ethan Barrons, with the help of Gabriel Edwards, and his upper-grade students participated in an intentionally experimental MakerSpace program giving students the opportunity to design, create, tinker and explore. They immersed themselves in the world of Rube Goldberg, a popular inventor and cartoonist from 100 years ago.

His cartoons about whacky inventions became so popular that "Rube Goldberg" has come to mean a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation (Webster's New World Dictionary).

Building a Rube Goldberg machine is an exercise in imagination, creativity, planning, innovation, and thinking outside the box. It's an art, science, math project made of odd, unusual, incongruous, cast-away objects (found art) arranged in such a way that they collide at certain points to cause another event to occur that will set off a continuous sequence of events with the hopes of eventually reaching the end without crashing first.

While their Rube Goldberg machine took up a lot of space in the room and Evan Palmer, Madeline Busick and Ilya Goheen were still putting together its 26 steps as the room began to fill up, other examples of student creativity, including paintings, "Celebration Masks," handmade instruments, block prints, and other pieces were exhibited on the art wall and hanging from the ceiling.

Wendy von Kalinowski assisted with art lessons concerning form, line, pattern, shape, texture and values to develop students' understanding of these basic elements through various projects and a variety of mediums. With assistance from Jane and Daniel Petke, Tammi Palmer and Malaga Hanks, they decorated the walls with student art.

Stephanie Blakelock, K-5 teacher, accumulated samples of work from her students since the beginning of the academic year, and they put them together into their memory books containing all their awesome work throughout the year to graphically demonstrate their progress. Improvement in their reading and writing skills, speaking and presentation skills, and their growth in imagination and creativity are evident as one looks through the students' workbooks.

Her students also each displayed their own Rube Goldberg Invention Drawings demonstrating some clever ideas and imagination.

Retiring head teacher Carol Dixon welcomed the community and introduced the staff. She then introduced Lauren White, former BBS student and previous recipient of the Frank Dale Memorial Scholarship Award, who presented the 2015 award, a $4,000 college scholarship, to Sammie Wavrin. She will be going to OSU this fall.

Dixon then talked about the continuing accomplishments of several former BBS students. Megan Ellsworth, who attended the gathering, shared her excitement over the release concert for her first CD, titled "Megan Rose," at The Belfry the next night.

The eighth-grade graduates were then introduced and given their diplomas. John Banks, Abby Busick, Daunte Hanks, Joel Miller, Jackson Rheuben, Tasman Rheuben and Kincaid Smeltzer will all be going into the ninth grade at Sisters High School.

Jane Petke, president of the BBS Parent-Teacher Organization, recognized this year's amazing teachers for their hard work and dedication to the school and its students, and presented each with a beautiful hanging basket of flowers.

At the end of the presentation, with the excitement building, the energy was released and the Rube Goldberg machine swung into motion. As it traveled over and under and around and through and back and forth and in and out and up and down, it finally reached the end, where it fed the school mascot, Goldie the goldfish, a spoonful of fish food.

And a good time was had by all.