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Two robots graced the fashion stage at the Recycled Fashion Show at Mountainair Elementary School last week. Photos by Leota Harriman.

Now in its fourth year, Mountainair Elementary School’s fifth-graders use junk to design fashion—and it’s educational.

Art teacher Lenora Romero said the students start with design, then move to engineering and implementation of their designs, using discarded materials to create their masterpieces.

“The kids get to think out of the box,” Romero said. “They have to design and measure and cut. Then they have to collect stuff they’re going to do it with.”

Romero said that in addition to the creative thinking involved with the student designs, she also wants to get them comfortable working as a team, and getting up in front of an audience.

The event started out with pre-school children doing a dance routine, then first-, second-, third- and fourth-graders took their turns entertaining the audience with dance routines.

Students who didn’t design costumes still helped out by making jewelry or other accessories for the costumes. Working in teams helps the students in later life, Romero said, because people work together in teams in jobs.

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The aim is to “recycle, renew and reuse,” Romero said. “We have a throwaway society, but in the arts there are artists who collect junk and make it into beautiful artwork—they can make a difference with junk.”

She talks to her students about the engineering side of their creations, and has them talk about what they’ve made and how they might price it, all real-world skills, she said.

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A Pac Man ghost.