By Andrea McCann
In a time when many schools are eliminating their arts programs, the Washington Catholic Schools community is looking to expand theirs, and the public can help with a daily vote online or by text.
WC art teacher Jennifer Carrico learned about a grant contest sponsored by Clorox through their Power A Bright Future grants for school programs and nominated WC. Voting began Nov. 12 and will continue through Dec. 19. The top vote-getter will receive a $50,000 grant, and six other nominees will receive $25,000.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity,” said junior/senior high school Principal Karie Craney. “The art program has been a blessing to the school. I’m grateful we can offer art class.”
According to Carrico, Craney and some sixth-grade students, WC hasn’t always had a separate art program. Prior to about five years ago, each classroom teacher was responsible for art projects in the classroom.
“We didn’t have art until second grade,” said Shaylee Truelove. “It’s really a good thing. We always just had art in the classroom, but once we got an art teacher we could do more.”
Carrico, who credits her predecessor, Peggy Taylor, with getting the art program off the ground, said winning the grant money would allow WC students to widen their horizons and explore a variety of media. Currently, students in grades one through eight work with oil pastels, graphite, watercolors, acrylics and yarn.
“I think it’ll get us more stuff to use throughout the year,” Holt Fry said about the grant. “It’ll help us do more projects a year.”
Keonia Thomas, Chloe Bryant and Brock Craney agreed the art classroom could use more supplies because markers dry out, colored pencils get used up, and they could use a wider variety of paintbrush sizes. In addition, Brock Craney thinks it would be nice to get a kiln.
“Right now there’s no clay program, no ceramics,” Carrico explained.
“At the high school level, students have an opportunity to take classes in photography, graphic design, sculpture, painting and drawing. Sadly, the art room does not have a sink. Students can’t wash their hands unless they walk across the building to get to the restrooms, which creates a mess in the hallways and bathroom.”
Kyle Ashby said when he has to leave the art room to go wash up — which requires navigating several hallways to the other side of the building — he always hopes he won’t miss out on anything happening in the classroom.
Carrico added that some projects, such as papier-maché and pottery, are a challenge — or even impossible — without easy access to water.
“The money would allow the art room to get a sink, art supplies, technology and a kiln, with some possible renovations to expand the space for a clay studio,” Carrico said. “With the grant, WC will be able to purchase a kiln, and students would be able to work with clay, which will spark excitement and creativity.”
Being able to upgrade technology would eliminate problems with old computers that break down and freeze up, she continued, and it would better prepare students for college.
“Photography class would love to use Photoshop instead of the outdated software being used today,” Carrico said.
Artist Georgia O’Keefe once said: “I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for.” That’s a key reason to include art in the curriculum, according to Ashby, art classes allow students to express their creativity. Erik Hunter added that it gives students “a sense of fun” that book work doesn’t always provide.
“I think it’s important to have an art program because it’s another way for students to learn,” Principal Craney said. “It’s another opportunity to find areas of life they’re successful at or have a future career in.”
According to educationworld.com: Basic drawing provides links with reading, writing and especially math. It teaches that a mistake is not mistake, and how to learn to change a perceived mistake into something else. It teaches about history and culture, and how to communicate ideas in other ways. It encourages critical thinking and creative problem solving, and it creates opportunities for students whose visual skills are stronger than their verbal skills. In addition, the website pointed out, ideas and information are most often delivered visually in today’s society, so youths in art programs learn how to evaluate those messages. The website Kinderart.com had similar information, saying art promotes activity in the brain, nurtures inventiveness and aids development of self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperation and self-motivation.
Sixth-grader Anna Barber thinks winning the grant and enhancing the WC’s art program will be a boon for the school.
“I think it’ll help our school get more students and help the school get better art opportunities,” she said. “I think it’ll be interesting.”
There are four contest categories: play, create, explore and judge’s pick. The top vote-getters in each category will receive $25,000. In addition, representatives of Clorox will select a nominee from each category, based on merit, to receive $25,000. Winners will be announced in January.
“I think it’s very generous of the company, Clorox, that they might donate a $50,000 grant,” Hunter said.
To vote online, individuals can go to https://powerabrightfuture.clorox.com/nominees/detail/?nid=2118 or text 2118pbf to 95248.