Westwind elementary Grade 4 students Conor Gannon (left) and Hailey Mulgrew display their comics. The stuffed animal next to them represents another student’s original comic character, created with help from his mom.
Westwind elementary students participated in a Comic-Con.
Students hold up their finished comics.
Comic-Con encourages creativity
Published 4:51 PDT, Fri April 23, 2021
Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021
Westwind teacher runs annual event celebrating art, storytelling
Every year, Westwind elementary teacher Carlos Victoria runs a Comic-Con at his school.
While COVID-19 restrictions saw the 2021 version of the beloved event pared down to just two classes, Victoria says it was also an opportunity for more creativity.
“What’s really cool is this is also the first year I’ve gotten this much variety in terms of stories, and also the (best) quality in terms of what the kids produced,” he says.
Comic-Con was born five years ago when a few “super engaged” students with a passion for illustration and art asked Victoria to help them start a comic club.
In developing criteria with his students, Victoria encourages them to include a “wow factor.” He asks them: “If somebody comes to (see) your work, what are you going to do to make them pause and say ‘wow’?”
This year, the entire process took about nine weeks, with students creating any number of comics and then proposing two to the rest of the class for voting on which would move forward to the main Comic-Con event.
Other students from Grade 3 to 7 nominated their favourite comics for individual awards like “Most Original Story” and “Coolest Character.” Then, the two participating classes held an awards ceremony—which was a new element this year. As part of the ceremony, which Victoria says “unfolded in a beautiful way,” students learned how to present a speech and incorporate feedback.
For example, Grade 4 student William Richardson described his Comic-Con journey as “epic”: “because this has been a long trail of excitement and wondrous ideas.”
“I love receiving feedback from children,” says Victoria. “This year I kind of disguised the feedback pieces as part of their thank-you speeches.”
During the speeches, students were asked to reflect on how they were able to find creative success, with Grade 4 student Aubrey Cruz attributing her success to “thinking of the things you love.”
And for Victoria, the process is a labour of love too. While the changes required this year resulted in a different experience, he’s proud of his students for taking ownership of their learning, including recognizing their strengths and providing honest and authentic feedback.
“Some kids are not the best drawers, but they’re good presenters. Some are really quiet, but really artistic. It’s about recognizing their strengths, and teaching them how to find strategies to push themselves and persevere.”
And in a year when connecting is important, Grade 4 student Senna Wilson says Comic-Con was special, “because I got to do it with my friends.”
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