Forestville Elementary wins big at Fair

FORESTVILLE – Pupils in Forestville Elementary have something to brag about. The Forestville booth at the Chautauqua County Fair earned first place recognition.

Elementary Principal Daniel Grande praised Kristen Britz, the elementary art teacher who organizes the booth inside Floral Hall.

“I thought it was just a given that Forestville will take first place. In the 10 years that I’ve been here, we’ve always taken first place. … (Britz) said, ‘One year, I took second and that wasn’t good enough. That made me work harder.’ That’s really what each one of our teachers is about in this building,” Grande said.

Britz said throughout the year, she encourages students to keep thinking ahead to the county fair display. She will tell elementary students to remember what projects they want to submit and will start collecting the projects in January. She will also reach out to other teachers to submit students’ work.

“A lot of times, I will start collecting projects the first of the new year so they can bring projects home and show them off to mom or dad, whoever, then I can start collecting projects to keep,” Britz said. “I try to make a variety of the classes from K through six now. I will ask their permission … and usually I get a ‘yes’ from everybody.”

Each project that is part of the display will have an award stapled to the project that is returned to students in September. The district also receives a formal award to be displayed.

As a school district, each school entered is guaranteed $50, but an additional $50 is awarded for first place. All prize money won goes back into the display or to purchase art supplies for Britz’s classes.

Britz started doing the fair display when she started teaching at Forestville and has done it ever since, minus a short hiatus when another teacher took it over; she recently took it over when the other teacher retired. She said the display would not be possible without the students.

“If it wasn’t for the students’ work, it would not look like this. I just love that they let me hang everything up. I’m very proud of everything they do. Hopefully a lot of the children that knew their artwork was in, they went and visited the fair to go to see their stuff up,” she said.

Britz said when she was setting up the display the Friday before the fair, it was about 90 degrees in Floral Hall. She took her children to help her, but ended up taking them home early because of the heat. She tries to make the display look very colorful and accessible to judges by using a table, leaving room to walk around. To further identify the display from Forestville, Britz bought a banner a few years ago with prize money. This year’s display included projects from third grade on fables, dinosaur dioramas, a project on Dr. Seuss incorporating a biography and a diorama, first grade writing samples and artwork about ducks, among others. She said the judges appreciate a variety of work.

“(Judges) really like to see writing and artwork,” said Britz. “When I have writing, artwork and the three-dimensional pieces, it does well with what the judges are looking for.”

Grande said the difference between Forestville and other school districts is the amount of variety in the student’s artwork. The amount of variety comes with months of preparation and planning.

“That can only come from a lot of different things throughout the year, and not planning at the last minute to put something together. When you look at this, it’s a nice snapshot of what’s going on throughout the year,” Grande said.

Both Board of Education President Sylvester Cleary and board member Carol Woodward praised Britz for all her work with the display.