NORTH ADAMS -- Seventh-graders in Christina King's first period art class were hard at work Friday morning, gluing and painting pieces for a float that will appear in the 57th annual Fall Foliage Parade on Sunday, Sept. 30.
"We did a float last year, which was a really good first attempt, but we started working much earlier this year," King said. "With the theme being Toys on Parade' this year, we started collecting toys from the students -- mostly broken toys. We originally had an idea for the float to have a jack-in-the-box on it."
But the theme evolved when one student donated a giant teddy bear, which took the place of "jack."
"We connected the box the bear is in to 'Oh, Canada,' at Mass MoCA, which the students have gone to and which has a large grizzly bear as part of the show," she said.
The bear and its box lid will have donated action figures and toys glued to them in a fashion similar to the work of local artist Jarvis Rockwell.
As the float progressed, more items have been added, including a giant cardboard Lego man, a cardboard Rubik's cube, a Slinky made out of rope and a two-sided Monopoly board featuring North Adams locales -- from the present and from 100 years ago -- in the traditional spaces of game favorites like Boardwalk.
"Our connection to the past came out of our Arnold Print Works doll murals," King said. "We've been learning about how things have changed in the city in the last
She added, "It's also been a project where the kids have been able to make decisions and offer input. We're empowering them, and it's wonderful to see what it's blossoming into.
"It's different and fun," Sam Superneau, 12, said of the project, as she painted parts the board game.
Taylor Sprague, 12, one of four students in the class who also painted the Arnold Print Works doll murals on the columns underneath the Veterans Memorial Bridge, said the float project was quite different.
"It feels like it's on the complete opposite end of the spectrum," she said. "The murals have a lot of steps to them, but this project allows us to play around and interpret things. I'm glad I joined the mural project because it's a great way to represent our school and honor the city's past."
Taylor added, "I can't wait to see this (float) in the parade. I know I'm going to feel just as proud. We've put a lot of time and effort into it."