Students restore San Jacinto Nativity scene figures


Itzel Viramontes

Sophomore Nailea touches up the last details during restoration of a Nativity Scene figure, Oct. 30

Itzel Viramontes, Reporter

A longtime Christmas tradition in El Paso is going to San Jacinto Plaza to enjoy the music and decorations. After years of exhibition, the Nativity Scene figures needed restoration. Conquistadores and Bel Air High School art students worked on the figures, which went on display Nov. 18.

“Our gallery curator, Mr. Sam Garcia, asked us if we would do the El Paso Parks & Recreation (restoration) of those sculptures,” art teacher Eduardo Saucedo said.

Knowing that the task was going to be challenging, the art teachers accepted.

“The sculptures are life-sized, so when I first saw the sculptures it was overwhelming, but luckily with a great team of student volunteers we got off to a great start,” Saucedo said.

Knowing that the students would need motivation to work on such a big project, the teachers offered community service hours.

“We asked for volunteers to help after school for service hours, and from those students we told them what (the project was) if they were willing,” art teacher Raul Monarrez said.

Commitment to the project soon went from earning community service hours to something else.

“At first I worked on the figures because I needed the community hours, but later I realized that it was something beautiful because we were doing it for the community to enjoy and we knew the symbolism means a lot to many,” sophomore Karina Rivera said.

The students worked on the figures as much as they could on their own time.

“We would stay almost every day, even Friday sometimes. We would get out of school at 5:30 or 6 p.m.” sophomore Ashley Flores said.

It was a long process to restore the sculptures.

“The students did an exceptional job from priming the sculptures, to taping areas for painting to the details to the final product. That made a big difference. I was very pleased with the work that we did,” Saucedo said.

The art teachers saw positive results.

“Those who did the detail work on the eyes, the ears, nose and hooves (showed a) huge amount of improvement. As they progressed they got very, very good,” Saucedo said.

The amount of work didn’t go unrecognized by the rest of the city.

“The news (KFOX-TV) came and interviewed us,” Flores said.

Working on the figures on television became a matter of pride.

“Once they see the figures I want people to think that it was the work of teachers, but (they will) be surprised once they find out that high school students did this,” Rivera said.


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