The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

From paper to plush: DePietro and her students give life to fourth-grade drawings

Natalie DePietro
A child’s world typically contains fairy tales and far-away lands, glued together with imagination. Fortunately for the young believers and magic, North Cobb Art teacher Natalie DePietro’s Applied Design students turned fantasy into reality. After receiving drawings from Vaughan Elementary School’s fourth-grade class, DePietro’s students worked diligently to create 3D plush toys that resembled the sketches.

North Cobb High School: a hub of student success across artistic, musical, academic and career-focused disciplines. Warrior students and teachers understand the talent that lies in the walls of their campus, however, a newly-minted NC teacher yearned to demonstrate this excellence in the form of bliss to Cobb County elementary school students.  

Walking through the doors of NC Art Teacher Natalie DePietro’s Visual Arts classroom, one may step into a world with astounding artistic talents and capabilities. Confident in her students’ expertise, DePietro designed her lesson plan: Toy Exchange. The initiative aimed to teach DePietro’s Applied Design I and II students how to manufacture a product for a client. However, these students did not create a prototype for any ordinary customer, they designed for imaginative elementary school students with dreams of their drawings coming to life. 

Fourth-grade students from Vaughan Elementary School picked up their pencils, pens, crayons and markers and planned out their sketches. From elephants, ponies and bunnies to creatures that mimic unicorns, the students drew their favorite furry friends that they wanted to animate. 

After receiving the drawings, DePietro’s students—or in this case, magicians —excitedly jumped head-first into work. Although the students dealt with artistic and internal challenges, each innovator produced a 3D plushie toy that mirrored the blueprints the elementary students drew. Not only did DePietro’s students spread joy to a fellow Cobb County school, but they also gained valuable product design skills. By turning a hand-drawn animal into an identical plush toy, the students in Applied Design I and II learned how to market to clients. 

“Working with clients is something that most artists must learn how to do. It takes time to understand what the client wants, but also an artistic eye to take their idea and make it workable and functional. Having this skill is necessary to know as a striving artist. In general, being kind, understanding, and asking the right question are great skills to learn as an up-and-coming professional artist and human being,” DePietro said. 

As the elementary students eagerly awaited the moment when they held their toys in their hands, NC’s high school students planned the delivery of their coveted creations. Heading into the fourth-grade classrooms at Vaughan Elementary School, NC’s students finally shared the soft bundles of joy with the kids. Between the fourth graders’ excitement and the high schoolers’ enthusiasm, the positive energy in the classroom felt tangible.

“…I kept getting updated emails on the elementary students and they were patiently waiting for the plushies. They asked almost every day when we would come and deliver. When we finally did, the classroom was buzzing with excitement. The students bonded over the plushies that they worked on for so long and bonded over the idea. It was a beautiful environment. I wish every class could have that feeling,” DePietro said.

Of course, the excitement that the fourth-graders felt that day could not have happened without DePietro’s creative and kind spirit. Simply acting on her desire to break the mundane atmosphere of high school lessons, DePietro demonstrated to her students the ability of their artistic talents. With the help of teachers like DePietro, Cobb County students can learn innovative ways to spread kindness to others

“My goal for this lesson was to try and spark a different way to enjoy the creative

process with my students. Sometimes art can be about spreading joy. And making other

people feel special is just one of the many things I want my students to experience. Art

is a wonderful tool to use to spread happiness across the world, and if I could get my

students to experience just a sliver of what art can do for other people then I wanted to

take that opportunity,” DePietro said. 

The Chant would like to thank Natalie DePietro and her Applied Design I and II students for extending benevolence in the Cobb County School District! Thank you for inspiring excellence!

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About the Contributor
Jasmina Buranich
Jasmina Buranich, Editor in Chief
Jasmina Buranich, a senior at NC, joined The Chant in 2022 to fulfill her passion for editing and learning about the writing techniques of others, sharing her opinions and research and networking with others. As she enters her last year on The Chant, she hopes to create meaningful memories with her fellow editors and reporters, meet new friends, highlight the successes of minority students at NC and continue publishing her research about the criminal justice system. When not writing, Buranich enjoys spending time with her friends, traveling with her family, volunteering in Cobb County and nationally, and helping her classmates with their academic assignments. After high school, Buranich hopes to attend a large university with a diverse student body and, hopefully, a student-led newspaper.

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