Photo by Ashley Lodato More than 450 Celtic knot paintings, all done by students, decorate the Methow Valley Elementary School’s Eagle gym.

Photo by Ashley Lodato
More than 450 Celtic knot paintings, all done by students, decorate the Methow Valley Elementary School’s Eagle gym.

By Ashley Lodato

Any visitor to the Eagle gym area of Methow Valley Elementary School is sure to notice the tapestry of painted Celtic knots adorning the walls outside the gym. Celtic knots are complete loops without any beginning or end and began to emerge in Celtic artwork in Ireland around 450 AD.

The knots either served entirely decorative purposes, or they symbolized the Celts’ belief in the interconnectedness of life and eternity, depending on which theory you subscribe to. In either case, they are an interesting art form that shows a mathematical sophistication.

About 10 years ago Jean Koreski, who teaches P.E. and sometimes art at the school, decided to initiate a Celtic knot art project after seeing a similar project at a conference. Jean got a book of Celtic designs and sized some of the designs to fit on the concrete blocks in the hallway outside the Eagle gym. In the decade since, more than 450 sixth-graders have painted Celtic knots on the blocks.

Students first study the color wheel, complementary colors and color blending. They then learn about the purpose of the Celtic knot design and how the knots consist of a single continuous line or several intertwined lines. Next, each student chooses one main color, its complement, and blends any color changes on each line. Finally, the students head out into the hallway with paint and brush and install their knots as permanent pieces of the Methow Valley Elementary décor.

Reports are coming in from the Bondi family, from far away in Lupiro, Tanzania, in east Africa. You may recall that the Bondis sold North Cascades Basecamp to the Bush School in July. After that business venture, they are now having a family adventure as volunteers for the Kilombero Valley Ornithological Center.

The Bondis’ main project is conducting wildlife surveys in the protected forest area of the Kilombero Valley Teak Company lands. Bird surveys commence at dawn and conclude before breakfast; the rest of the day is spent collecting data on human disturbance, mammal signs, and particular trees located within each plot of the survey area. The Bondis report that Amelia (12) has become the main GPS and photo point recorder while Emmet (almost 9) is the chief wildlife scat and track locater.

Additionally, the Bondis are offering some outreach programs, teaching middle and high school aged students about the food chain, the web of life, and energy pyramids. They’re also trying to find time to swim and play soccer. You can follow the Bondis’ experience on their travel blog at


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