Fifth and sixth graders in the Fort Lee schools Gifted and Talented Program competed in nine teams, designing the benches. The winning designs were chose by a panel consisting of a representative for The Modern, Councilman Armand Pohan, and a Fort Lee Education Foundation member.
According to Elsa Osso, one of two Gifted and Talented teachers at the elementary schools, the winning designs will serve as models for benches that will be installed in a park as part of a downtown redevelopment area that includes The Modern and the Hudson Lights, a primarily retail component.
Early on, professionals were recruited to speak to students about construction materials and the architectural aspects of design, Osso said.
“They really owned their designs,” she said of the students, who sketched and presented their visions in a PowerPoint presentation before the judges.
A team of fifth-graders from School 1 placed first, followed by a group of sixth-graders from School 1 and a team of fifth-graders from School 3.
Nicole Huh and Russell Yum, members of the team that took second place, both said the process — from concept to something more tangible while working as a team — was at times frustrating, but also rewarding. Paying homage to Fort Lee’s history as the birthplace of the film industry, their team designed seating to look like a film roll, with a clapper board as back support.
“At times it was frustrating because you couldn’t get the exact design to work,” Huh said.