Never-give-up koi fish inspire PAA students to just keep swimming

Never-give-up koi fish inspire PAA students to just keep swimming

Never-give-up koi fish inspire PAA students to just keep swimming

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BY JON POMPIA | [email protected] MAR 31, 2017 UPDATED MAR 31, 2017

Never-give-up koi fish inspire PAA students to just keep swimming
With the majestic and resilient koi fish as the day’s role model, students at Pueblo Academy of Arts were reminded that no matter how turbulent life’s current may get, the key is simple.

“Just keep swimming.”

Inspired by a project at the Colorado Springs-based Discovery Canyon Campus instituted after a cluster of teen suicides there, visual arts teacher Neely Cardinal-Schulle brought the koi fish art project to PAA Friday.
Designed to inspire a sense of renewal, unity and perseverance, the endeavor saw the student body first hear the legend of the koi fish — one marked by the positivity, strength, perseverance and determination needed to swim up a waterfall — before breaking out supplies to craft individualized versions of these ornamental, indefatigable carps.

“This is a school-wide, art installation project designed to show our uniqueness, our differences, but also our resilience and ability to overcome by working together,” said Cardinal-Schulle.

Inspired by the life-affirming legend of the koi, the students took to their projects with mature aplomb, cutting, gluing and eventually transforming basic construction paper into origami-influenced, kaleidoscopic treasures.

“This was important to me because it shows how much we’ve gone through, and what we’ve done, to make it to this point,” said Trystan Waggoner, a seventh-grader. “In the legend, the way the koi got to the top of the waterfall, to be where he wanted to be, was by believing in himself and knowing that he could make it, with the help of gods who believed in him too.”

As a bit of pre-project inspiration, the student body took part in a town hall, during which the premise of the koi-related endeavor was teased.

“Some of the characteristics associated with the koi include good fortune, success, longevity, prosperity, courage and conviction,” A.J. Aguirre told the assembled student body.

The town hall also saw a wonderful student performance of Eric Church’s “Kill A Word,” the poignant plea to stop hateful words and use only those that will build up, encourage and inspire.
The koi fish pieces will line the halls of PAA as a colorful reminder that swimming upstream against strong currents will often by inevitable.

But that by facing those challenges and struggles, together like a school of koi, the journey can be much more navigable.

“If you get to where you want to be in life, you will have to get through those challenges,” Cardinal-Schulle explained. “So we all have to remember to just keep swimming.”

Additionally, several of the finished koi designs will join similar pieces previously installed by Cardinal-Schulle inside local businesses and agencies as hope-inspiring reminders that in the sea of life, we are all in this thing together.


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