The eighth grade class at Almond Acres is currently posing the question, “How does art live on?”  Throughout this project-based learning unit, the students have researched artists and their artwork to uncover the impact art has on our society and our souls.

Using a project-based learning model during this educational unit is more meaningful for students.  They have incorporated science, history, art, literature, English language, technology, and math while attempting to answer the core question.  

To help answer the question, “How does art live on?” students and their families toured the Allegretto Vineyard Resort in Paso Robles.  This beautiful retreat hotel was designed with art as a focal point.  The tour was led by the site designer, Doug Ayers.  

Allegretto Hotel chairs

Every detail of the resort was constructed with the idea of bringing harmony to visitors.  The students saw collections from all over the world, with different mediums, from different eras.  From lighting fixtures to paintings, furniture, chapels, monoliths, sculptures, and water features, every piece had a story and a purpose.

We asked Charlotte Reid, Middle School ELA teacher at Almond Acres Charter Academy to share with us her insights as to what the eighth graders are creating and why — for the new AACA school in Paso Robles, opening in fall 2021. 

1. Why did you tour the Allegretto Hotel? Where did you focus your time and attention on the hotel grounds?
“Mr. B set up the tours with the owner, Doug Ayers, when he heard about our Art Unit in 8th grade. Doug Ayers has spent years traveling the world and visiting sacred places. He has also studied many different traditions of architecture and decorating, which he has used to create an aesthetically pleasing and peaceful resort. Much of the artistic pieces come from around the world (such as doors from India and a carved statue in the chapel), from the earth (many crystals and a giant slice of a redwood), and even local artists. He showed us the massive chandelier in the entry which he had commissioned – it represents the energy patterns/centers in and around the human body (also called chakras). We saw the beautiful chapel he designed to allow the sun to fall through specific windows during the solstices. The walls are specially made from ground marble or quartz which is mixed into a plaster – it is similar to plastering found in Italy and has a shimmer to it that is quite lovely. He has created several labyrinths for meditation. He has the first audio labyrinth which has different harmonious sounds that help balance energy during the walk through the labyrinth. Every small detail of this resort was intentionally created by Doug Ayers.”

Allegretto Hotel labyrinth

2. What is the goal of this family art tour? How did this time inform the 8th graders’ group project?
Originally, we would have gone on a field trip into Paso where we would have visited art around town and the art studios where students could talk with the artists themselves. However, because of Covid, we had to come up with an alternative. Mr. B arranged an art tour for families to attend that would give them some insight into different types of art, architecture, and design. Students have been researching different artists, art movements, and art forms as part of their unit which asks the question: “Does art enhance our lives?” For this unit, students will be developing a personal mission statement and then creating a piece of art which embodies this mission statement. 

Students will also use the information they have researched and learned from the Allegretto tour to create/develop a group piece of art for the new school. This will be part of their graduation/promotion from 8th grade.”

Kenichi Parkhurst, an Almond Acres 8th grader on the trip added, “It was really cool to see such a large collection and variety of art in one place. The pieces fit together so well that it was like looking at one big collage.”

3. What are the 8th graders going to build/create for the new PR school building? Can that be revealed at this time?Students have not started to design the art piece for the new school site. However, it will be in the new courtyard. “ 

Allegretto Hotel chapel

4. What else should we know about this fantastic undertaking by the ‘big kids” of AACA?
This will be their contribution to the new school as the first students who started at AACA in kindergarten and are graduating from 8th grade.” 

Because Almond Acres Charter Academy knows that learning is most impactful when creativity is involved, the eighth-grade class will use the knowledge they acquired while touring the Allegretto for an amazing project!  As their gift to future Almond Acres families, the students are helping design the atrium at the new school site in Paso Robles.  This beautiful expression of art will consist of many different features, providing a warm welcome to all who enter the school. Find out more about Almond Acres Charter Academy today! 

About Almond Acres

Almond Acres is relocating to Paso Robles. Almond Acres Charter Academy is a public, tuition-free K-8 school that employs credentialed teachers and administers state-mandated testing to provide families in northern SLO County an additional choice in public education. Open to all students in all communities, the school is currently located in San Miguel and moving to Paso Robles for the 2021-22 school year. AACA’s mission is to help students succeed academically and socially by educating the whole child: heart, mind, body and soul. We grow great kids!