Months of hard work paid off on June 1 for two local high school students as a portable art wall they designed made its debut at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center (EGFAC).

Annabella Macaluso and Jolin Zhang, juniors at Pleasant Grove High School, designed and constructed the wall as part of an assignment in their engineering class, at no cost to the arts center.

Adorned with paintings, the wooden partition was completed in time for the center’s 1st Saturday Art Reception last week. It stood in the arts center’s main gallery space, but Macaluso and Zhang built it on wheels so it could be moved around the building.

To show the center’s appreciation, EGFAC member Darrci Robertson presented the students with thank you notes.

The engineering project had students contact community organizations “to help them build something that they need,” Zhang said.

She and Macaluso quickly agreed on which group to reach out to.

“The first thing that we thought of was the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center because we both like art,” Zhang said.

EGFAC spokesperson Cheryl Griess said she and other arts center members, including artist Kirk Wolfe, collaborated on an initial design, which they sent to Macaluso and Zhang.

“We were thrilled” to be contacted, Griess said.

The Pleasant Grove students then set to work – Macaluso said they made digital models of possible designs.

“Eventually, we reached a design that everyone liked,” Macaluso said. “So afterwards, we got a budget together, purchased a whole bunch of materials, and then (Zhang and I) worked together for three, four months, building, painting, sanding.”

Macaluso said it was a challenge assembling something “two times the height of us” that weighs an estimated 400 pounds, but, she said, “it was a lot of fun.”

The paintings on the art wall included works by EGFAC member Raquel Lushenko, who said such community service projects give “an opportunity for the students to do something real.”

“You know, sometimes you just do projects in class, and then, what happens to it?” Lushenko said. “But they had an opportunity to do something that’s going to be used for many years to come.”

Zhang and Macaluso described feelings of pride and excitement upon seeing the wall serving its intended purpose.

“I was pretty amazed,” Macaluso said. “For a while, this was in our shop just kind of blank, white everywhere, so coming in and seeing a whole bunch of colorful paintings on it makes me feel happy.”