They combine, one by one, like links on a chain - all to spread the message of solidarity.

Abington Heights High School art teacher Eileen Healey first introduced her students to the International Hexagon Project three years ago as a way for them to creatively respond to the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

This year, student artwork was featured in the March edition of SchoolArts magazine, a national magazine for art educators that was also given away at this month's convention of the National Art Education Association in Fort Worth, Texas.

While each student creates his or her hexagon to represent a personal message, whether it be prevention of child abuse of bullying, Healey explained that it was her own connection to Sept. 11 that led her to participate in the Hexagon Project with students in her ceramics class.

"I have a brother who was a fireman and he was lost that day," she said. "When I realized it was about Sept. 11, I knew I had to participate. It is a personal connection for me but it goes in a different direction and in a positive way. It is great to get something positive out of something negative."

Interdependence Day has been celebrated annually on Sept. 12 since 2002. The Hexagon Project is part of Interdependence Day Scranton; student artwork is featured during the September First Friday Art Walks in downtown Scranton. The pieces featured in SchoolArts magazine will be exhibited this September, along with hexagons submitted from local, national and international artists.

The 30 students in Healey's ceramics class that participated in the Hexagon Project range from tenth to twelfth grade. The only criteria for participating in the project is that the final piece of art is in the shape of a hexagon. The hexagon was chosen because they can be linked together infinitely.

"The Hexagon Project is a way of artistically expressing yourself to promote interdependence in the world," Healey said. "The students can think of that personally, in a community-minded way, or more globally. The project is as personal as they want it to be. It is about people getting along and helping people. It promotes saving the earth and different ways of thinking."

Healey also explained that the Hexagon Project is one of her students' favorite class assignments for the year because of its highly subjective nature. Healey's students' final pieces are in the form of a ceramic hexagon that could be hung up or displayed.

"It is a change of pace for the students because they aren't making something functional, which is what they normally do with clay," she said. "The fact that they are doing something different that they can use to send a very personal message means a lot to them."

"Everyone has their own take on it, the Hexagon Project can be all different things," she continued. "It is endless what the kids take from it. They always enjoy doing this project because it is a way to express themselves."

The deadline for the International Hexagon Project is Sunday, June 30. For hexagonal templates, release forms and entry forms, as well as additional information, visit www.interdependencedaynepa.org.

Abington Heights art students featured in national magazine