PITTSFIELD -- Artist-educator Robin Yuran stood with a group of kindergartners from Morningside Community School whom she had met with twice a week after school for eight weeks.
Together, they explored words, made puppets and other creations through the Learning Through the Arts program presented at Morningside by the IS183 Art School of the Berkshires.
Before she let them go for the trimester, she rallied the youngsters around her for one more activity.
"Simon says, take a bow," Yuran instructed as the smiling students followed.
"Simon says, pat yourself on the back. Great job," Yuran said to the children, as more than a hundred parents, community members, teachers and fellow Morningside kids clapped and cheered them on during an art show and reception this week in the ballroom at Spice Dragon.
"This is our way of making sure the students' works are really part of the community," said Morningside Principal Joseph Curtis. Two more student art shows are planned and will be open to the public this spring, at the Berkshire Museum and Colonial Theatre.
Asked how the after-school art program makes her feel, Morningside fifth-grader Amy LaCrosse said, "Adven turous." Classmate Francis McKeown agreed.
"It lets you go on adventures and explore and discover things that you can't always find in real life," he said.
Seen carrying an armload of artwork, The Eagle asked fourth-grader Joshua Rod riguez which piece he was most proud of. The illustrated poem? The snake puppet? The replica of "Phantom Tollbooth," inspired by the children's novel and adult fairy tale?
"I'm proud of all of them because they're all my favorite things to do," Rodriguez said.
In addition to celebrating the creative work of students and the artists and assistants who helped them, the Interlaken-based nonprofit IS183 also announced it has received four recently awarded grants totaling $34,100 to expand Learning Through Arts (LTA), an after-school, curriculum-based integrative learning program for kindergarten through Grade 12.
IS183 is one of 63 statewide recipients of the Mass achusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Quality En hance ments in After-School and Out-of-School Time grant, receiving the maximum award amount of $22,450. The money will be used to expand programming at Morningside to three days a week, beginning in January, and also to continue work at Conte Community School.
The Morningside program -- LTA's pilot project to reach low-income families -- will also benefit from the Berkshire Bank Foundation's renewed support, with a pledge of $5,000 a year for two years, as well as continued support from Price Chopper's Golub Foundation.
Underwriting from the Lanesborough Initiative For Educational Excellence (LIFE), an endowed fund of the Berkshire Taconic Com munity Foundation, is extending IS183's LTA program to Lanesborough Elementary School students in kindergarten through second grade, beginning in January.
"It's really gratifying. This is a huge feather in our cap which will open doors for us to bring on solid community partners," said IS183's executive director, Hope Sullivan.
The program is now in its fifth year, and artist-educators work with teachers to ensure the LTA curriculum is aligned with state educational frameworks, including ties with math and English language arts. This year, LTA also partnered with other educators to integrate movement, spoken word and nutrition into its program, and soon, music.
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