AYER -- The Ayer-Shirley Regional School District School Committee was wowed by art student talent Tuesday night, as high school art teacher Jim Ryan and two of his students, Celiena Debalsi and Rodrigo Resendiz, presented a student showcase.

The high school representatives presented student entries for this year's Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards competition, as well as other examples of student work.

Ryan, who teaches studio art, video, and design courses, said that entry into the Globe competition is voluntary, but that students are encouraged to enter. This year's deadline is Jan. 15.

School Committee members were treated to an exhibit of digital photos by students Maddy Norton, Leah Robinson and Zach Taylor; a painting by Sarah Saaristo; greeting card designs by Emma Taylor and Bryanna Peters; drawings by Mike Montoya and Emily Megan; and a drawing and ceramics by Tyler Dauphinais.

Ryan stated that Megan was just accepted into the Savannah College of Art and Design, and is also applying to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

One of the art department's goals, he said, is getting student work published. The idea for the greeting card designs came to him when he saw Artwork for Education cards in an area Hannaford grocery store.


Student art submissions accepted by Artwork for Education are published on high-quality greeting cards sold across the country, and 40 percent of the proceeds are paid directly to the school for supplies, programs and other learning activities.

Ayer-Shirley art students are also fulfilling the second of the department's two major goals -- community involvement.

"My graphic design class just designed the new menus for Nashoba Club," Ryan said proudly. Nashoba Club was going to pick just one design, he said, but the students did such fine work that the restaurant is going to use them all.

"In a month or so, you will get a choice of one of four menus designed by the design class," Ryan said. In addition, a student in the department's Web design class is creating the website for the Wholesome Café.

Debalsi, a senior who said that she has been drawing since age 10, showed the School Committee several pieces of her work. One was a drawing of the school's kiln room, showing Debalsi's talent for illustrating in perspective and with a keen eye for detail. She also presented a fall watercolor, a double pinch pot ceramic heart, a Halloween self portrait done in pencil, and a colorfully painted design-in-progress of an owl.

Debalsi said she is interested in art education and hopes to attend the New Hampshire Institute of Art, possibly after a two-year stint at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Resendiz presented two portfolios, one for an architectural college and one for other colleges, including UMass Amherst. He, too, wowed the committee with his talent, as he described an India ink self portrait and free-form design, charcoal and pencil drawings of landscapes viewed out a window, a charcoal of a lamp and his younger brother's broken guitar, several origami designs, a parabola drawn in pencil, a ceramic box in the style of origami, a ceramic teapot shaped like a snake with a mouse for a lid, and several other works.

The senior said he started his interest in art with origami, which he has been doing for "about half a year." He later discovered that he was good at drawing and enrolled in a drawing class. He is just completing his last work of art for submission to UMass Amherst, which he described as a cardboard structure.

"It takes a long time to build a portfolio," Ryan said, "so these guys have been really working hard."

School superintendent Carl Mock thanked the students and their teacher, who received a round of applause and public accolades from each of the committee members.