A Maverick's Texas
© Pasadena Memorial High School
A Maverick’s Texas
Pasadena Memorial High School students document their local culture for student exhibit
SAN ANTONIO – Pasadena, Texas, might be a Houston suburb, but it’s a place with its own people and its own unique culture. Texas Highways magazine
photographer Griff Smith helped students realize its uniqueness and prepared them to capture it in pictures when he visited Pasadena Memorial High School during the fall.
"A Maverick’s Texas," named for the Pasadena Memorial mascot, is a student exhibit at the Institute of Texan Cultures showcasing the uniqueness of Pasadena through images and artworks. This perspective on the small town is on display March 12 through June 17.
"We wanted students to take their classroom lessons out into the real world," said Ashlie McKenzie, an education specialist with the Institute of Texan Cultures. "Geography teaches the importance of ‘place’ and ‘culture.’ With inspiration from Griff Smith, it was our hope that students would see their lessons come to life in a new and challenging way."
Pre-AP Geography, art and photography students participated in the project, culminating with a school-wide photo and art competition. The assignment was enhanced with a writing portion, challenging the students to prepare captions or short essays for their images, detailing land use, language, education systems, religions and
customs that define their community.
"My students were very excited by the opportunity to participate in this joint project with our art department and especially with UTSA and the Institute of Texan Cultures," said Stephanie McClain, team leader with Pasadena Memorial’s World Geography department. "They became very involved with the components of culture as they looked for ways to capture them through the camera lens."
"A Maverick’s Texas" is based on a similar initiative the Institute of Texan Cultures undertook in 2010 with Moreno Middle School in Beeville, Texas. The "Beeville: My Small Town" exhibit showcased photos and artworks from gifted and talented sixth-graders, documenting the unique aspects of their small Texas town. The students received mentoring from Ricardo Romo, president of The University of Texas at San Antonio, also a noted historian and photographer.
The Institute of Texan Cultures intends to continue offering this type of challenge to Texas schools, to engage students in documenting their communities and offering perspective on their unique local cultures.
The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit TexanCultures.com.