Oxbridge Students Use Art For Social Activism

A class of budding artists from the Oxbridge Academy recently used their talents to help beautify a new community in Jupiter.

“A lot of the homeowners have always wanted their own little garden, their own little plot of land to cultivate. We were able to provide them with that,” said Sarah Knouse, visual arts chair and ceramics/sculpture teacher at Oxbridge.

Students in the wood and metal working art class built 20 planter boxes and donated them to residents of the Kennedy II Estates development in Jupiter just south of Indiantown Road near Central Boulevard. Kennedy Estates II is an affordable housing development built last year by Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County, which helps people achieve their dream of getting their first home.

The planter boxes were donated to the homeowners on Tuesday, May 19, to celebrate them having their homes for one year, Knouse said.

“It was wonderful for the students. They felt so good about the work they did and their exposure to community service,” Knouse said.

The students also worked with the Jupiter-Tequesta Garden Club to obtain plants that are easy to maintain, such as bromeliads, and planted them in each donated planter boxes. The boxes are made out of wood pallets. Some of the wood was purchased, but most of it was recycled from pallets used by the school during its other operations. The students have also built another 30 planter boxes that will be used at Oxbridge to start a garden on campus growing herbs like lemongrass that the school chefs can use to prepare student meals.

“It is always a goal at the Oxbridge Academy to encourage every student to become more involved in their community, as they will be the leaders of tomorrow. This project gives students a chance to develop their skills working with wood while also becoming more involved in the community,” Knouse said.

The students of the wood and metal working class plan to build more planters to donate to future Habitat for Humanity projects. Knouse said she is also working on another art partnership with the affordable homebuilder. When families are given the Habitat houses, Knouse said, the Palm Beach County Reading Council often gives them a bookcase full of books. Knouse said next year her students plan to build bookshelves for these donations and are already gathering up books.

ABOVE: The planter boxes are unloaded from the bus.