AYER/SHIRLEY -- Four Ayer-Shirley Regional High School ceramics students showed off their artistry in ceramics at the Dec. 3 Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee meeting.

Senior independent study student Tyler Warila and Ceramics I students Sarah Gibbons, Jen McGrath and Ashley Krueger were accompanied by their teachers, Jim Ryan and Michael Seguin.

Also present was ASRHS Principal Brian Haas, who stated that he thought it would be of interest to the committee and community at large to see work created via some of the school's electives.

"They're not just a fun art class," he said of the school's ceramics program, "...but they are fun."

Warila first presented an exquisitely designed ceramic blowfish, which he said he created beginning with two hollowed-out pinch pots that he joined together.

As school Superintendent Carl Mock, Assistant Superintendent Mary Beth Hamel, Business Manager Evan Katz, Superintendent Assistant Laura Callahan and the committee members gently passed around the object, Warila told them that he would like to study industrial design in college.

Gibbons then showed off a smiling violet and red octopus, and four individual maroon and white three-dimensional numbers for the year 2015. McGrath brought in a white candleholder with a delicate leaf pattern, and a volleyball box embossed with volleyball terminology and a decorative top. Krueger showed off a curved, glossy cobalt-blue box, and another light-blue one with pink, yellow and orange flowers.

The boxes were made from rolled out clay cut into slabs with the use of templates.


The slabs were squared and beveled to fit together, and then the boxes squared and evened out, before the tops were designed and cut.

McGrath said for her box she used slip, or clay suspended in water, to seal the edges, along with rolled bits of clay inside the box's edges for support. Before the top to her box was applied, she cut and secured extra pieces just above and inside the sides so that the square top would close securely.

"We have a pretty high volume (of students,) so there are two ceramics classes this semester," Seguin said of the high school's ceramics program. The school offers Ceramics I and II, and independent study.

Seguin said that Warila is working with Ryan to put together a portfolio for college.

"We've had success with independent study, which is how (students) expand their own ideas and thoughts in ceramics," Seguin said.

He said that he used to teach in the middle school, which is where the box project idea came from, but when he made the move to the high school he took some ceramics courses so he could get a better idea of what the ceramics program could become.

Students rotate between hand-building and using the six throwing wheels that are available, Seguin explained.

The high school's art students have done well with entries in the Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards, a long-held competition from which Gold Key award winners are invited to have their work displayed in an art show at the Boston Transportation Building.

During the last school year, Ryan's Ceramics II class had three submissions and five of the school's drawing, photography and painting students won two Gold Keys, two Silver Keys and an honorable mention award.

School Committee Chairman Pat Kelly said the renovated high school building would have more shelves for displaying such work.

"These are great pieces and we look forward to what you build next," he said.