Artists volunteer to share interests with Grand County students |

Artists volunteer to share interests with Grand County students

Courtesy photoDuring Arts Day at the Fraser Valley Elementary students are exposed to a variety of arts. Here artist and Fraser gallery owner Elizabeth Kurtak taps into their creativity for drawing at one of the previous year's events.

Visual artists, musicians, dancers and performers have joined forces to volunteer in local schools for an all-arts day Thursday.

Participants will lead small groups of students in activities of the volunteer’s interest. For example, if the volunteer plays the guitar, they share that instrument with the students, show them how to play a chord or two, and then play a few songs with them.

Past activities have included a drum circle with Mike Ray, martial arts with Rusty Thompson, harmonica workshops with Dan Treanor with the Grand County Blues Society, and a studio demonstration on glass bead making with Nat Haven.

At the end of the day participants finish with an assembly. This year it will feature Opera Colorado performing “Cinderella.”

The program was created four years ago when teacher Traci VanWoensel was at the Colorado Art Education Association Conference with Tina Steinberg, the art teacher at East Grand Middle School. Steinberg had decided to attend a workshop led by a teacher in Colorado Springs who had held an “All Arts Day” the year before and convinced VanWoensel to come along. VanWoensel said she left the workshop “filled with excitement” and thought it would “be really cool” to implement it in East Grand Schools.

After a brief hiatus, parents, teachers, and volunteers asked her to bring it back. Fourth grade teacher Cincy Rimmer and music teacher Lori Oury offered to help make it work.

The idea is to expose students to all facets of the arts, she explained, “whether it is modern dancing or working with clay. I believe that there is something for everyone somewhere within the arts and I would like to give the kids the chance to try different things and see what they like. If a few kids discover something new about themselves as a result of this day, then I have achieved my goal.”

The students have already signed up to chose which sessions they want to be a part of. With the sign-up process they get to explore areas of the arts that intrigue them.

VanWoensel said this year the students have been studying many things, including M.C. Escher school-wide, an integral part of an art show in May. The fourth- and fifth-graders also just finished making a 4×10 mosaic near the art room window on the outside of the new construction. It features a giant picture of a sea turtle swimming in the ocean, designed and drawn by fourth-grader Raylin Wikoff.

Those with an artistic talent of any sort to share or anyone interested in volunteering in future programs like this may call VanWoensel at the school at (970) 726-8033.

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