CARL JUNCTION, Mo. —
Sitting between two 30-something glass artists, Carl Junction sophomore Shae Patrick felt a bit intimidated.
She was part of a glassblowing class held during the Glass Craft and Bead Exposition last month in Las Vegas. Taught by Filip Vogelpohl, Patrick had earned a scholarship into the class.
"I started out thinking, 'I'm not supposed to be here,'" Patrick said. "They knew what they were doing, so it was intimidating."
But Patrick caught on quickly. With help from Vogelpohl, Patrick created a series of globes that came together in a chandelier that some said resembled the work of glass sculptor Dale Chihuly.
She showed that she belonged, as did other artists who won awards from the expo for their glass creations.
The students are part of a new glass arts class at Carl Junction High School taught by Jessica Sellars, a graduate of the school who earned her bachelor's degree from Missouri Southern State University and her masters of art education from Pittsburg State University. The art teacher taught for 20 years at Coronado High School, located in Henderson, Nev.
A mosaic she spotted years ago inspired her to explore glass arts.
"I went to a show years ago and saw a mosaic I loved," Sellers said. "Then I looked at the price tag. I thought that I'd like to have it, but the price was steep, so I decided to learn how to make them myself."
The idea quickly expanded to her students -- one of whom had the idea to add a small mosaic to a mirror.
Since then, glass arts have become part of what Sellers teaches students. She said students catch on just like she did. Thanks to the help of parents and others who donated supplies, Sellers expanded the program to include several kilns and plenty of glass for crafting.
"I think it gets students excited and motivated," Sellers said. "Doing high-quality artwork seems to appeal to them."
Those Nevada donations followed her. When she came to Carl Junction High School three years ago, a parent who wanted to donate a kiln to Coronado instead directed it to her class. Sellers bought a trailer and drove to Nevada just to pick it up.
"That parent wanted to give the kiln to the other school, but they had no room for it, so they couldn't take it," Sellers said. "They were really hurt and offended by that, but when I found out about it, I told them that there is a small school that could really use it."