Every Thursday, customers can dine at the California Pizza Kitchen at the Gateway Mall, and 20 percent of their bill will go to Weilenmann and its art program. Florence a graduate of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and the International School of Art in Todi, Italy said the funds will hopefully go toward the experiential component of the art program curriculum.
He and his middle-school class displayed their experiential skills by creating a large tree with cardboard sculptures of the things the students want to become or learn how to do well.
A mouth with colorful braces, a tree stump with an axe in it and a plane are all different things that can be found strewn about the large tree that reaches up to the ceiling from the floor of the restaurant as well as a window. The idea for the tree began last year when a parent approached Florence about a California Pizza Kitchen fundraiser.
"I called the restaurant and asked, 'What are my restrictions?' and they said we could really do anything we wanted with the pizza boxes," Florence said. "I told them I was going to let my students build things out of the boxes, and they loved it.
The restaurant liked it so much, he said, that they allowed him and his class a whole area to build whatever they wanted this year. They even supplied the class with more glue guns, hot glue and pizza boxes.
"The tree represents this growth and this unknown that each kid has, all this potential," Florence said. "They can grow into whatever it is they want, which is what is so cool about the range of sculptures here."
"Possibility flags" also hang from strings festooned across the branches of the tree, proclamations of what the children hope their learning results in as well as what community members hope the children will learn or become.
There are sculptures hanging throughout the restaurant as well as strings for those who dine in the restaurant to hang their "possibility flags" throughout the month. Florence said he hopes as many community members as possible will hang the flags, and that will be a success in itself.
The hopes that parents have for their children can be hung on the tree, because Florence said every parent has certain aspirations for their children. However, when those children are growing up, at a certain time, they become whatever they are going to want to become. He said that is what the "Possibili-tree" represents.
"I started with the children by talking about planting a seed. If you don't know what kind of seed it is, you don't want to plan on making peach pie," he said. "You have got to wait and find out what grows, which is something I think a lot of us have experienced as we have gotten older."
The tree will be on display at the California Pizza Kitchen at 156 4th West in Salt Lake City until the end of February. Every Thursday throughout the month, 20 percent of customers' dining bills will go to Weilenmann. For more information, contact the Weilenmann School of Discovery at 435-575-5411 or the California Pizza Kitchen at 801-456-0075.