Leaving a legacy at Lyons Elementary School

Ten-year-old Eden Irvin learned a lot in fifth grade and thanks to a year-end project there is a permanent reminder of her hard work in the entryway of Lyons Elementary School. 
 
A large, wooden book lies open at the front of the school and features carvings that represent lessons learned by Eden’s class throughout the school year and the legacy they hope to leave behind. 
 
For more than 18 years, fifth graders at Lyons Elementary have embarked on the Lyons Legacy Project -- a capstone assignment aimed at teaching students about teamwork and leadership while giving something back to the school. 
 
“Specifically, our students learned that if they work together, compromise, listen, ask and set a goal they can attain it,” Fifth grade teacher Brooke Boaman said. 
 
The project began with students designing and sewing patches to create large quilts, which were given away, auctioned off or donated to the Lyons Redstone Museum. But the fifth-grade class of 2016 had something different in mind. 
 
During a lesson about empathy, the school introduced savant artist Alonzo Clemons -- who has a developmental disability and genius-level sculpting skills -- to students inspiring a new kind of capstone. 
 
“We wanted to introduce the kids to different examples of diversity and disability and to create more equality and empathy in our school,” Principal Andrew Moore said. “Apparently it worked because they decided they wanted to commission him to create a mountain lion for their Legacy Project.”
 
The bronze mountain lion is displayed in the entryway of the school near this year’s wooden book project. 
 
Eden said the book design developed throughout the school year with feedback from her peers and input from family friend and Longmont woodcarver David Monhollen.
 
Eden’s class raised more than $1,000 for the carving but donated the money to the school’s fifth grade science program and the Lyons Emergency Assistance Fund after Monhollen offered to donate his time and the project materials. 
 
Some students helped carve the piece during hands-on lessons with Monhollen. 
 
Mountains, flowers and the school are carved into the pages of the open book. A scene of students working on a science project at the St. Vrain River is Eden’s favorite carving and her favorite part of the year. A mountain lion is coming out of the center of the book representing the students moving on to middle school. 
 
"When I was first learning about what our previous fifth graders did I got this big spark and couldn't wait to work on our project," Eden said. “We wanted to top their idea and I think we did."
 
Moore said it was a coincidence that students chose two back-to-back art pieces and hopes that future classes will consider other templates for their Lyons Legacy Project, like community service. 
 
"The fact that this is completely student driven is amazing, and we like it to be born out of their curriculum but it’s up to them how to transfer that over,” Moore said. “It’s not just about the class but what type of message have they developed throughout the year."