Watkins Memorial Middle School eighth-grader Grace Block says she "probably won't be an art teacher."

Watkins Memorial Middle School eighth-grader Grace Block says she "probably won't be an art teacher."

But she said she is looking forward to having her artwork displayed in the Southwest Licking Arts Festival from May 6-10 at Watkins Memorial High School.

"It's a glass mosaic," Block said.

The festival will feature all types of student art, including painting, sculpture and ceramics.

Block also will contribute a bowl she created for the Empty Bowls project, which kicks off the festival from 4:30 to 7 p.m. May 6 at the Watkins Memorial High School cafeteria.

Special education teacher Nancy Gero said Empty Bowls is an internationally renowned project to help fight hunger.

"Schools, churches and communities do this project all over the United States and throughout the world," Gero said. "This project is amazing as it truly connects the school and the community together.

"We tie in our art curriculum and language-arts curriculum with the project and it benefits our local hunger organization, Pataskala LEADS."

Gero, who has coordinated the event for Southwest Licking schools for the past four years, said students in every grade make ceramic bowls for the project as part of the art curriculum.

Students also learn about philanthropy because they know that their bowl they are making will be donated to the project and sold for charity, she said.

Gero said Kirkersville Elementary fourth-grade teacher Patricia Waddell's class is researching hunger facts in the local community, as well as nationally and globally. Those facts will be placed on the tables at the event.

"Then, on opening night of the arts festival, we have a night where the community is invited in to the Watkins Memorial High School cafeteria and for $10, they can pick a student-made bowl, get served soup and a piece of bread, and then take the bowl home," Gero said. "The whole family can eat for $10. The price is per bowl, so if they want two bowls, it would be $20, and so on."

The Reynoldsburg Max & Erma's restaurant donated tortilla soup for the event.

"We will also have 18 different kinds of homemade soups," Gero said. "It's a soup extravaganza."

Gero said the Empty Bowls event would not be possible without all the volunteers who make soup and bread and serve at the event.

"The reason for the simple meal of soup and bread is that it is symbolic of hunger," said Gero, reiterating that all of the profits go to Pataskala LEADS. "We are proud to be hosting this event in our school district and community for the fourth year."