Student photo gallery is real education

by David Safier
My last post spooked me, so here's something on a far more positive note.

Amphi High opened Gallery 125, a photo gallery, in the lobby of its Performing Arts Center. As you can see at right, these are carefully mounted and framed, beautifully displayed photos.

Gallery 125 is a culmination of two years of work by Amphi students and Bevington.

The Joint Technological Education District is providing financial support.

Former Amphi student Chelsea Cota, who has photographs on display in the permanent collection, put a team of students together, wrote a mission statement and came up with a concept for Gallery 125.

Cota is a student at the University of Arizona.

"They wanted to make it for us (Amphi students), but also to incorporate all the schools in Tucson and possibly the larger Southwest region," Bevington said.

Amphi senior Marlena Ratliff is responsible for running the gallery's day-to-day operations.

Amphi students Tim Gilbert and Bailey Milbauer also are involved.

This is a student led and student run effort. What these folks are learning cannot be measured on a multiple choice test, or any other way, for that matter. It is, in the best sense, an immeasurable experience. We have no way of knowing how these students will be affected by creating the space, hanging their work and seeing their photos displayed so professionally. We don't know how other students will be affected by seeing it, or parents, or teachers who may grow in their respect for some of their students.

I taught photography at my high school for about 10 years. It's wonderful to see how seriously students take their efforts when the teacher takes the discipline and the students seriously. I saw genuine talent. Some of their work made me feel jealous (Damn, I wish I took that!). I saw "loser" students being praised by National Merit semifinalists who shared the same class and the same darkroom. It was a pure meritocracy. Everyone recognized talent and effort, no matter where it came from. I saw students' attitudes about themselves change in ways I rarely saw in my English classes.

We used to display student work, but never like this. My hat is off to the students and instructors. This is real education we need to value and recognize right alongside "the basics."

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