More students than ever before are taking advantage of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' free after-school art classes. The classes—offered in English and Spanish at six different locations—currently reach more than 200 elementary school students in the Wood River Valley.
"Pretty much every weekday between now and May there's a free after-school art class going on—and sometimes two or three classes at the same time," said Britt Udesen, The Center's director of education and humanities. "There's clearly a hunger in our community for more ways to foster creativity and appreciation of the arts among our kids."
The after-school classes meet once a week for three to six weeks and are designed to complement the Blaine County School District arts curriculum.
"Generally, the students begin by looking at an art object and talking about it, then they make something of their own," Udesen said. "We might show them two landscapes and talk about foreground, background and horizon line, and then have the kids go outside with viewfinders to frame and then sketch their own landscapes."
The Center's teachers for this winter and coming spring are Bob Dix, Joni Cashman and Anne Elmore, who are art teachers at Hailey, Woodside and Bellevue elementary schools, respectively. They are each teaching after-school classes in their classrooms.
The Community School's art teacher, Zoey Crawford, is teaching after-school classes at The Sun Valley Center in Ketchum for Hemingway Elementary School students. Heather McGregor, who is studying for a master's degree in bilingual education, and Shawn Stephenson, the first grade dual-immersion teacher at Bellevue, teach bilingual after-school classes in Hailey and Ketchum.
The art classes reach many families who don't otherwise participate in The Center's programs.
"The classes are free and held at or near school, which removes a number of obstacles for people in terms of cost and transportation," Udesen said. "The bilingual classes reach an important group who might not feel as confident in a class taught only in English."
The Center holds classes at its Ketchum and Hailey locations in addition to the schools. "We're not abandoning the idea of classes in the schools—this is a way for us to add capacity," Udesen said. "On some Tuesday afternoons there are three classes being taught simultaneously—at Hemingway and Hailey elementary schools and at The Center, Hailey."
The classes are advertised through flyers that come home in students' folders. For information about upcoming classes, contact Udesen at 726-9491, ext. 19, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.