Devils Lake High School art classroom named after former 53-year art teacher

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal
On National Teacher Appreciation Day, Devils Lake High School (DLHS) honored former DLHS art teacher Robert Moore.

DEVILS LAKE – More than 50 students, teachers, school board members and relatives congregated inside the commons area at Devils Lake High School (DLHS) on May 3 to honor a longtime community contributor. 

“Community contributor” only paints part of the picture, however. The event served as an opportunity to commemorate Robert Moore, a former art teacher who taught at DLHS from 1956 to 2009. Even that would only glaze a portion of the honor ceremony, though. After all, the ceremony served as an opportunity to name the art classroom after him in his honor. 

To Steven Swiontek, the “Robert H. Moore Art Education Classroom” will help illustrate Moore’s lasting impact. Moore, who died on February 13, 2021, was named the “United States Teacher of the Year” in 1965 and consistently taught his students the five essential skills he believed vital to art education outside of pure creativity: collaboration, confidence, cultural awareness with empathy and critical thinking.

Swiontek, a 35-year Devils Lake resident, knew “Bob” dating back to when he lived in Hallock, Minnesota. Dating back to his time as principal at DLHS in 1987, Swiontek always held positive memories of Moore as a faculty member and friend. 

“Then, when I became superintendent, he [Robert] was always here,” Swiontek said. “He was always ready to tell me, ‘give me some advice about how the school should run’ or whatever necessary…He was extremely enthusiastic about art education here.”

The "Robert H. Moore Art Education Classroom" will serve as a reminder of the impact Robert Moore had on the school and community.

Bill Moore, Robert’s nephew, additionally held positive memories of his uncle. From his time as a student at the University of North Dakota or his frequent Walmart trips with his uncle, Bill always noted how many people had a story about Robert. 

Bill’s recollection of his uncle consistently revolved around determination, expectation and hard work not only out of himself but out of his students, too. 

“Several people have commented about being strict, and I remember that as being younger,” Bill said. “He demanded certain stuff. If he had the knowledge, he could have been a coach in sports, but he wasn’t into sports at all.” 

To Bill, Robert will continue to leave his impact at the high school, even in passing. 

“This is just really nice,” Bill said. “I think he [Robert] is well deserving. If he knows this is happening, I’m sure he is just excited because that’s 53 years in one school. That’s a long time…He loved to work.” 

In Moore's honor, a plaque was placed outside the doors of the newly-minted Robert H. Moore Art Education Classroom.

Swiontek, who helped put on the ceremony, believes future generations will have their artistic visions come to life in Robert’s honor. 

“Well, I think they’ll hopefully walk by that room and as they go into the art classroom and look at that memorial or name above the door and say, who was that guy,” Swiontek said. “Maybe I should do some research and find out a little bit more about this tremendous educator.” 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell  phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.