Recently, half of the library at Warm Springs K-8 Academy was turned into a painting and animation studio. LAIKA studios, a stop-motion animation studio that specializes in feature films based in Hillsboro, provided an opportunity for around 60 middle school students to immerse themselves in the world of animation and creativity through a special workshop. The 90-minute workshop was a hands-on experience that allowed students to either paint a clay bust of a character from a LAIKA film or learn about the creative process behind animation. 

Every middle school student was allowed to apply for the workshop. Approximately 60 eager students eagerly signed up, demonstrating an interest in exploring the world of animation. The application process was simple. It required students to say if they were interested in attending the workshop and provide two reasons why they wanted to participate. This was the second year in a row LAIKA put on the workshop for WSK8 students.

“I wanted to participate because it relieves stress and takes everything away and I can see the beauty in art,”   

Meleseke Nua

7th Grade Student at WSK8

“I did it the first year out of curiosity and the first time coloring Coraline was really fun and the staff were really friendly, it was talkative and we got to understand what the program was about and it seemed like a future job I wanted to do,” said 7th Grade Student Mateja Sutterlee.

Once the sessions started, students had two options: paint or animate. If they choose to start painting one of the two characters, including Coraline and Mr. Susan Link, then it allowed the students to bring these beloved characters to life through their artistic expressions.

(Left to Right) Mylez Stevens, Mateja Sutterlee, Meleseka Nua

“I don’t have a lot of time after school to focus on art so I wanted to participate because it relieves stress and takes everything away and I can see the beauty in art,” 7th Grade Student Meleseke Nua said.

Before students could lose themselves in painting the characters, they first had to gather their supplies. LAIKA provided everything the students needed from brushes, a variety of different colors of paint, and palettes. Once students knew what colors they wanted, they could begin. Throughout the workshop, students meticulously painted the clay busts to bring their imagination to life. They focused on the different strands of hair, the eyebrows, eyes, nose, lips, skin of Coraline or Mr. Susan Link.

“It was fun and stress relieving,” Nua said. “We could paint, and we had all this time to paint and just focus on one piece of art.”

“It was really good to be in an environment where I didn’t have to worry,” Sutterlee added.

Students also had the chance to participate in animation tutorials led by staff from LAIKA. These tutorials provided valuable insights into the techniques and skills involved in the animation process. Mylez Stevens, an 8th grade student, immersed himself in learning about animation. 

“It was pretty fun, I’m glad I got to participate and I paid attention to what they did,” he said. 

In addition to the workshops, the LAIKA staff also participated in an informal Q&A session with 5th grade students at the school. The kids got the chance to ask them questions about their career path, their favorite part about their jobs, their interest in the arts, and more.

The success of the LAIKA animation workshop underscores Warm Springs K-8 Academy’s commitment to providing students with diverse and innovative learning opportunities. This opportunity happened because of the partnership with Caldera Arts. Caldera’s mission is to inspire and support youth from underserved rural and urban communities by awakening the potential of their creative voice. The non-profit connected WSK8 with LAIKA. 

By fostering partnerships with corporations like LAIKA, the school continues to empower students to pursue their passions and find what drives them.

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