When Mrs. Angela Schultz came to Richland Springs to teach Spanish and art, she noticed an unsightly, concrete object in the middle of the courtyard between the high school and the first row of elementary buildings.
Alumni remember that object as the old water fountain. The water fountain had been repaired several times through the years, but in the early 1990s the pipes froze and burst inside the concrete. There appeared to be no way to repair the old fountain. Many were sentimental about the fountain and held fond memories of conversations, yearbook photos, and activities that had occurred “at the water fountain” sixty or more years ago.
When some of the school personnel decided to tear the non-functioning, decaying structure down, many of the alumni complained and begged for the fountain to be saved. Since the early 1990s, the fountain has remained useless and basically an eyesore.
Mrs. Schultz, a renowned artist and sculptor in her native Colombia, said that when she first saw the concrete fountain, she thought it looked like a perfect base for a piece of art. She said, “That base was just there-doing nothing!” Her brain started spinning with ideas.
She approached her senior art class, which included four students, about turning the neglected object into a piece of art. The students got excited about the idea. They began to brainstorm plans in the classroom.
Mrs. Schultz took her idea to the principal, Mr. Don Fowler, for approval. Mrs. Schulz was granted permission to continue, and she took on the responsibility of the project and became the project leader. Mrs. Schultz took all of the students’ ideas and explained to them which ones would be the most feasible and the most artistic.
Soon, the students and Mrs. Schultz had a plan, but the project was too large for four students, and these students would only be in art for one semester. This project would take at least a year with help.
At this point, Mrs. Schultz asked Mr. Gerald McKee, the Agriculture teacher at the high school, if he would be interested in helping her and the students, and he volunteered his time and the time of his Ag. Mechanics class.
Then, she asked the additional art teacher if she and her students would become a part of the project, and indeed, they desired to take this project on.
Mrs. Linda Harris, who teaches G/T, Kindergarten, and art, had thought of trying to make tiles from clay, fire them, and attach them to the concrete structure about ten years before, but her plans had gone by the wayside when she didn’t have a place to fire her tiles.
The teachers began to have fund-raisers to make some money to get the supplies that they would need, but they were still in need when some good people came to their aid.
Mr. Earl Kimbrell of A. Action Bail Bonds in Brownwood volunteered to furnish all of the metal; Mrs. Nancy Cook, “Aunt Nancy” as we all know her in Richland Springs, volunteered to procure tiles, and Lela Whitney of San Saba volunteered to fire tiles for free for the individual tile pieces that would depict all of the mascots of the schools in the district, the United States and Texas flags, and symbols of Richland Springs such as a spring and the old oak tree in front of the school. She also fired tiles with all of the students’, teachers’, and donors’ names on them.
Mrs. Schultz, who has a degree in Fine Arts with an emphasis on sculpting, drew all of the patterns for the metal artwork that was placed on top of the old fountain and for the scenes created from pieces of tiles that would cover the concrete base.
Mr. McKee did all of the welding of the cut-out metal pieces to the sculpture, and Mrs. Harris and her students broke tiles and emplaced the hundreds of tiny pieces into the artistic patterns on the walls of the structure.
Mrs. Schultz, Mrs. Harris, and Mr. McKee said that during the “water fountain project” the students often got discouraged and frustrated and that there were discouraging times, but in the end, they persevered and created a work of art of which to be proud. These students have created a part of the history of the Richland Springs School and have left a beautiful sculpture for which they will always be remembered. Mrs. Schultz said that her wish was that the students would remember, “To be Successful, one must persevere!”
The Richland Springs I.S.D. commends these three teachers and the Junior High and High school art students, the Ag. Mechanics students, and all the students who worked on the project to help get it finished within the school year.