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A window winter wonderland

Snowmen created by Westmere fifth graders will greet holiday shoppers at the Little Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza this year as part of the Albany Winter Festival.

This is the third year that Westmere Elementary School students have been asked to develop an artistic interpretation of Winter Festival for a window display.

Mary K. Weeks, the school's art teacher, led the after-school project, which had a core group of about 20 fifth graders.

The office of special events has asked us for the last three years to put up the display at the Little Book House. It is an exclusive fifth-grade project, she said.

The students began working on the project in September, creating a colorful variety of three-dimensional characters, many using recycled materials to reflect Westmere's commitment to the environment.

City of Albany Special Events Director Sue Cleary said part of the excitement leading up to the main Winter Festival event is the window display at Stuyvesant Plaza. The intent of the displays is to spark people's interest in coming downtown during the winter festival.

"They used all recycled materials, which is a Westmere thing," she said.

Weeks said the bulk of the project was done after school.

"The kids made a huge time commitment," she said.

Fifth grade student Iyal Basen, who made a Goth-style snowman, said the fun part of the art project was using real artist's materials, such as paints and canvases to create the snowmen.

"There is no limit to creativity," Basen said.

The city of Albany gave the school a $200 grant this year to purchase artist's supplies to use on the project.

Student Samantha Kellerman said the fifth graders were building on the snowman concept used the winter before.

"We did the same thing and added more to it like paints and fabrics. We made a real portrait of them with real artist paint," Kellerman said.

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