CCAT presents arts education in school districts | Community

Arts education in schools is one of the many programs offered by the Chisholm Trail Arts Council. Its goal is to provide art-related opportunities for schools and students. Looking back on the 2021-2022 school year, the arts council has reached many students.

The Lawton Academy of Arts and Science (LAAS) has been a big supporter of CCAT, bringing high quality artwork to the gallery during Youth Art Month. The school’s enrollment includes many students from the Stephens County area, so the committee decided to kick off the school year by providing educational outreach to the school. In September, artist Deborah St. John gave art lessons and projects to more than 100 Lawton Academy students. St. John is a multi-award winning photorealistic animal and wildlife artist whose expertise is in colored pencil, but who is also talented in the mediums of pastel, gouache and acrylic.

On December 10, 2021, nearly 270 students from Duncan Middle School Music Class and Duncan High School Reflections participated in the afternoon educational outreach delivered by Backtrack Vocals. Backtrack is a five-person a cappella group that was included in CCAT’s live concert series in 2021. Based in New York, they brought their expertise and shared their passion for arts education, including several types of aspirations, such as songwriting, musical theater and beatboxing. The group has appeared on NBC, FOX, PBS and more. The students loved the vocal talent of the singers and what they learned during the outreach.

Later in the school year, the artist, Danny Gordon, reached 75 students at Empire Middle School.

“He brought a lot of energy and you can tell he’s very passionate about his job. The kids loved it,” said Rochell D’Raye, an Empire Middle School teacher.

Gordon is a multi-award winning artist/illustrator who has been creating art since he was five years old. He has illustrated several children’s books and drawn over 600 pictures and 90 breeds of dogs. He taught students a four-step process: concept sketch, color compositions, transfer, and then the final artwork.

On March 29, 2022, Reflections at Duncan High School hosted teacher/conductor, Tony Gonzalez, to assist the singing group and help them prepare for their competitions. Reflections director Kevin Zinn commented on how Gonzalez’s enthusiasm and knowledge benefited his students.

In addition, in March, the two committees, Art Education in Schools and CTAC Art Gallery, joined forces for Youth Art Month. They displayed nearly 331 works of art by students from Lawton Academy and across Stephens County, and provided a wonderful reception for attendees, their families and friends. The artwork was judged by several judges and ribbons were awarded to first, second and third prizes. Prizes were awarded in three categories – primary, middle school and high school. During the evening, 42 prizes were awarded, some of which were cash. Best of Show went to high school student Alayna Hill. Door prizes were also awarded at the well-attended reception.

April is National Kite Month, so the Arts Council sponsored local artist, Dave Young, to teach kite-making to all third-grade students at Horace Mann Elementary School. Young has participated in the Schools Art Education Program annually since 2016. Students learned about the history of kite making and the elements of art while creating their own artistic designs on large pieces of plastic . Young taught them how to magically transform their art into flying kites. Many children had the opportunity to fly their kites on the schoolyard.

Art Education in Schools awarded two $500 scholarships to students in the past school year. Kathleen Battiest, a senior at Epic Charter School, was one of the recipients. She applied for financial assistance for Ballet Magnificat tuition! with the ultimate goal of joining the Ballet Magnificat! Show company. She would also like to have her own dance studio one day.

Battiest said, “Art is a beautiful way for people to express their soul. I believe that art programs are important in our schools and communities because they provide options for children to express themselves… outside of sports. Art tells the story of different cultures, ways of life and illustrates how we have grown over time.

Asia Fleetwood, a senior at Duncan High School, was the other recipient. Fleetwood is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music at OCU with the goal of being a Broadway performer.

Fleetwood said, “Art is a creative expression of the self. Having music and art available in schools gives students the opportunity to bring their creativity to life. For some artists, like me, school is where students explore and recognize talents, abilities and passions. Art is an outlet that allows me to share my struggles, my passions and my dreams.

The Oklahoma Arts Council provides a list of Oklahoma Teaching Artists which is a great way for the committee to use to start creating ideas and plans for the next year. Artists are already on the move, because art is dynamic and never still. Their vision is for students to participate in and enjoy different art forms.

The Chisholm Trail Arts Council continually strives to bring all different types of art to all schools in the area each year.

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