Artist helps La Crosse students build sand frog pond

Local sculptor Mike Martino taught fifth graders at Summit Environmental School how to build multiple sand sculptures as part of the school’s third annual outdoor campout.

The students created a frog pond, completed with a frog, turtle, butterfly, fish and snake.

“The frog is kind of our symbol because it’s French Island. It used to be Frenchie the Frog, so we’re kinda sticking with the frog theme,” said Summit Environmental School Art Specialist Carissa Brudos.

“You have to go slow and steady. Not rush through it,” said fifth grader Alex Knerzer.

Mike Martino “told us if you go too far under, that it might collapse,” Joey Scaccio added.

Brudos hopes the students get more than cool sculptures out of the lesson.

“Seeing what a working artist does, the work that’s involved, that it’s not done immediately. There’s time and sweat put into this and teamwork, too. They gotta work together and cooperate and that’s something that we do during the campout, team building.”

Students were divided into groups of 15. They started the sculpture on Thursday with shoveling and pounding down the sand to get them into their specific forms. On Friday, the groups worked on the detail of the sculptures.

“It’s really fun because sometimes in our class we get to do tiny clay sculptures but now getting to do really big ones and getting to do the little details in there,” said fifth grader Katrina McCoy.

When the multiple sculptures were complete, Martino sprayed a glue-water mixture that hardened the outside and kept the inside moist so it will last for a while in the elements if it rains lightly. Brudos hopes it lasts for about a week.

The event was made possible by a $500 grant from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

As part of the campout, students also went fishing, geocaching, and participated in various other activities.