As students walk through the corridor by the 400 building and pass by Room 405, a shelf lined with ceramics projects jumps out. These beautiful pieces were created by Ray Medhus’ ceramics classes and are set out on shelves to remind students to collect them after they have been graded. There are three levels to this course, Ceramics 1, Ceramics 2 and Advanced Ceramics.
Medhus started teaching at Notre Dame Prep in 2004, making the 2017-18 school year his 13th year. Prior to his arrival, there was no ceramics program at NDP. The NDP campus was originally owned by Tesseract School, and it featured a kiln, or special oven for baking pottery, already built in. A job posting was put up looking for someone to teach a ceramic course and Medhus jumped on the opportunity.
Ceramics 1 is a hand-building class, which teaches students how to make pinch pots, coil pots, and slab pots. From these basics, the fundamentals can be expanded on in Ceramics 2, in which students have the opportunity to use the wheel to create pots. Yet this class does not just teach students how to craft a pot.
Medhus said, “Any fine art course would teach more than just the skills required for that course, because of the incorporation a broader spectrum of thinking skills and applied disciplines.”
Similarly, students learn more than just how to play an instrument in guitar. The fine arts courses at NDP aim to better students in multiple areas.
Senior Amenda Huynh, who took ceramics as a sophomore, said, “I learned how to start something and see it through to the end.”
Many of Medhus’ students were able to showcase their creations at NDP’s Sept. 5 Fine Arts Festival. The festival was a huge improvement from 2016. Along with including food truck, there were more available spaces for performances and displaying student-made art. Consequently, there was an increase in attendance.
Although the ceramics program has grown immensely throughout the last 13 years with the increase of levels of ceramics and publicity towards the program, Medhus believes it still has room to grow.
“I absolutely believe that we need a fine arts building,” Medhus said. “It would be a place to have all of the fine arts together, kind of a home. It would also provide us with more up-to-date facilities, display cases, and an auditorium for the performing arts.”
All of the visual arts, ceramics, painting, and drawing, take place in the World Language building, so freeing up the two extra classrooms would also provide more space for language classes to fill.
With the addition of a new drawing teacher, Julianne Fondell, alongside longtime art teacher Jennifer Kiraly, who has been teaching at NDP since 2003, more space is a must. More and more students are interested in taking visual arts, so the creation of a fine arts building would accommodate them.
Kiraly commented, “Now that we have another art teacher, it would be so nice to have more space for the both of us.”
The future development of the fine arts building could be a much-needed solution.