Mountain Pointe High School students who belong to ceramics teacher Teresa Gilchrist’s Clay Club are giving back twice.
First, the students recently taught some residents from nearby Mountain Park Senior Community how to throw clay and make ceramic bowls.
The second act of generosity will come Feb. 28-29, when those and hundreds of other bowls made by students are sold at the annual Empty Bowls event, benefitting United Food Bank and Tempe Community Action. The event raised more than $20,000 last year alone.
Gilchrist, a teacher at Mountain Pointe for the last five years, said the seniors enjoyed their visit to the school but it wasn’t all fun and games.
“I kept stressing how difficult it is at the potter’s wheel because you need to be able to sit on a stool and need a lot of strength,” she said in explaining how the seniors learned to “throw clay.”
That’s the term for putting a lump of clat and centering it on the wheel – which “involves really using a lot of your body strength to make sure that the clay’s even on the potter’s wheel before you can turn it into a pot.”
While the senior community wants to make the visits a regular thing, Gilchrist said she would like to have it be a continuing thing, “but it’s hard for all us because a lot of the kids have jobs after school and we have finals coming up.”
So she thinks she has a solution to make everyone happy:
“I think what we might do is make some bowls and bring them over to the senior center and have the seniors paint them.”
“I think it was a lot more difficult than they thought it would be,” Gilchrist said. “That’s usually how it is with the wheel because you’re watching somebody that’s done it for a long time and they make it look easy. But what they had was a lot of fun and they were very grateful for us and the students.”