ESCANABA – Youth in Art awards were presented last night to students from Kindergarten through 5th grade during a packed reception at the Bonifas Fine Arts Center.
Director Pasqua Warstler says they were concerned about receiving enough entries this year because of cutbacks at some area schools and the elimination of art classes, especially in the elementary grades.
“We developed a resource package for the classroom teachers at the elementary levels, those teachers that are now stepping into another subject that wasn’t necessarily familiar to them. So, we tried to minimize the impact and be proactive. It’s a natural state for kids to be creative and we have to keep that flowing,” said Warstler.
Anna Larsen, a 5th grade student at the Rapid River Elementary School, was an example. She won two awards despite no art program at the school. Her mother, Beth, who is also a teacher in Rapid River, said art is important to her daughter.
“She really values her art,” Larsen said. “She spends time in her room doing different pieces of artwork. So this means a lot to her.”
Larsen said she is encouraging art in her 5th grade classroom but is concerned that art is not being offered as a regular program.
“There is no one more upset than I that she has not been able to have art and music, those creative arts that I enjoyed as a kid,” she said.
Art is also important for 5th grader Evan Porath. He likes to paint. Art is now held within his regular classroom.
“It’s fun to do and nice to look at,” Evan said.
He won an award for his painting.
“It means a lot for him to get the award. It helps to build his confidence and makes him excited about participating in art,” said Evan’s mother, Rochelle Porath.
There were more than 800 entries in this year’s Youth in Art exhibit. Awards will be presented next Thursday to students from 6th to 12th grades.