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Holladay Journal

Igniting a love for classical architecture in the next generation

Jun 24, 2019 10:45AM ● By Heather Lawrence

Students from Carden Memorial School participated in a 10-week course called New Heights, where they learned the fundamentals of classical art and architecture from Utah specialists. (Paul Monson/Utah Chapter ICAA)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Students at Carden Memorial School got the opportunity to learn about classical art and architecture from local professionals this spring by participating in a program called New Heights. The program was sponsored by the Utah chapter of the Institute for Classical Art and Architecture (ICAA). Students’ final projects were showcased at an event at Carden on May 24, and students were invited to join the Utah chapter of the ICAA at their annual fundraising gala on June 7.  

“The goal was to get into schools to educate students on classical art and architecture. ICAA contacted us and asked if we would like to participate. We had 20 students take the courses which ran for one hour each week for 10 weeks,” said Michelle Goodwin, director of Carden Memorial School in the Sugar House area. 

“The students took it very seriously. The courses were taught by local professionals who were working in the fields of art and architecture. Students had to apply, and it almost worked like an intro to architecture course,” Goodwin said. 

One of the professionals involved was Paul Monson, president of the Utah chapter of the ICAA. Monson, who is an architect for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was trained at Notre Dame in one of the few classical architecture programs in the country. 

“The style of modernism is fine, but we’ve lost the beauty and tradition of designing classical buildings. They’re still viable, buildable, worth pursuing. Whether it’s preserving a building or making a new one, these elements are timeless,” Monson said. 

Monson said the program is all about hands-on experiences for young students. “In addition to the New Heights program, we raise money through grants and fundraisers to pay for supplies. We offer scholarships to send students to Paris to study for a week. We tour a historic building with classical elements like the Capitol or Governor’s Mansion,” said Monson. 

Carden Memorial is a non-denominational Christian private school that focuses on providing a classical education, so their curriculum went hand-in-hand with the New Heights program. But Monson is eager to make it available to more students. 

“We’d like to develop curriculum and lesson plans that could be made available online, so an art teacher at another school could just download lesson plans and teach them in their class. We’re trying to find a public school where we can pilot it. We’d really like to bring it to underserved areas,” said Monson. (For more information, see

“Last year was our first year participating, and we felt very fortunate to have them. The professionals came during school time and taught a one-hour class each week to seventh and eighth graders. They learned basic vocabulary. They studied proportion, sketching and casting,” Goodwin said. 

On May 24, students brought their final projects, an assigned sketch, to be displayed and critiqued by the ICAA members. “They got valuable feedback, and we awarded a first and second place prize for the sketches,” Goodwin said. 

First place went to seventh grader Ava Eresuma. “I’ve always loved art and art class. It’s a favorite hobby of mine. I got to learn a lot of new information about architecture, how everything worked together. The program was everything I thought it would be,” Ava said.  

“My sketch was a skull at a side glance; half of the side and half of the back of its head. Because of what I learned in the New Heights course, I saw how I could use perspective, shading, and darks and lights,” said Ava. 

“And the gala was really cool,” said Ava of the ICAA’s fundraising gala on June 7 in Memory Grove. 

“What I’ve learned about architecture has been very eye-opening. Now my mom and I will be driving around and see houses and I’m noticing columns and other elements,” Ava said. 

Lamia Labban is the art teacher at Carden. “This course has reinforced what I teach in my classes. Students see that if you want to increase your skills, you need to do lots of sketches. You need to see many things, see details, and have the patience to draw and invest your time — otherwise, it’s not going to happen,” Labban said. 

“The students were very happy to have this opportunity. They took it very seriously. My daughter was involved, and she wants to be an architect when she grows up. They were learning about measurements, scaling, floor plans; things that people learn in college,” said Labban.  

Goodwin said Carden is already talking to ICAA about doing the program again next school year. “The students really sense that it’s a privilege. We have an awesome art teacher here, but when it’s a specialist in the field, the students can sense it. It pushes them beyond what they’ve been learning. It’s a whole different level,” Goodwin said.