The Parent Teacher Association of Central School in Riverside revived the school’s Artists-in-Residence program last week after a four-year hiatus, bringing a local artist into classes to lead art projects commemorating Earth Day.

Dawn Gmitro, the PTA’s Artist-in-Residence chairwoman, said the last time the program had been organized her son, now a fifth-grader at Central, was in kindergarten. She said she wanted to help revitalize the program, which is also held intermittently at other schools in the district, because of the unique benefits it offers to students.

“The program expands their idea of what art is,” she said. “They have an opportunity to work one-on-one with a professional artist.”

The two-week program, which will be wrapping up this Friday, was led by local artist Heather Hug, who designed each grade’s art project around an Earth Day theme as well as certain topics in their current curriculum.

For example, third graders created “Save the Animals” posters, second-graders constructed dinosaurs out of recycled wire and foam, and fourth-graders learned how to paint using levers, pulleys and other simple machines. Kindergartners constructed caterpillars out of recycled stockings and paper towel tubes, and fifth-graders used found objects to create miniature scenes in curio-or curiosity-boxes.

Hug, who teaches art classes at the Riverside Arts Center and has been involved with other artist-in-residence programs in the district, said she had designed the projects not only to teach the students about recycled materials, but also to broaden their understanding of how art is created.

“What I’m trying to get across is that you can use recycled material and create art that is fine art,” she said. “You can approach art from different directions, and the process of creating art isn’t just about painting, it also involves construction and problem-solving.”

Gmitro said she has heard positive feedback from students and teachers about the program, and said she hoped to maintain the artist-in-residence program at Central, bringing in more artists in the near future.

“I’d like to explore different areas and programs, collaborating again with teachers to tie the projects to the curriculum,” she said.