The Communities in Schools Youth Art/Talent Expo will take place on April 14th from 6-8 p.m. at the Kemp Center for the Arts, with art created by junior high and high school students being showcased. A trip for 4 to Disneyland will also be raffled off that night. The trip includes air fare and tickets to Disney Land, as well as hotel accommodations.
The projects are from 6 campuses of junior high and high schools in Wichita Falls, and “each campus has a unique project that they are working on with each project being a single group effort,” said Enrichment Program Coordinator, Amber Scott. In fact, one of the projects will be available for the public to get a sneak preview at the After Hours Art Walk on April 5th outside of Pocket Picassos, located at 717 10th Street in the downtown area.
Because of an innovative grant from the Alliance for Arts and Culture, Amber was able to go to each campus and work with the CIS social workers and students. “Communities in Schools is a dropout prevention organization,” said Executive Director Toni Alonzo. “Our mission is to provide personalized student management services by connecting students and families with community resources to support them through their educational process and to help with the student’s promotion to the next grade and graduation. We are in the business of giving students hope for the future and keeping them on task, so they can get to that future.”
“What we do administratively is we go out into the community and we try to find any and all resources that would be beneficial to our students. Primarily we serve at risk youth,” she said. “I go out and speak to different organizations, and it just so happened I was introduced to the availability to art enrichment grants, or innovative art grants. We had never touched on these because what we focus on are social service activities to help jump the hurdles that students have to go through in order to promote and graduate,” Toni said.
The art enrichment required by the grant helped give the students another voice to express some of the things they were going through. “What we do is assign a social worker to a particular campus and they become the site coordinator on the campus they serve. A needs assessment of the child is done to find out where the student is coming up short and then we build a plan for each one of them to support them throughout the school year,” Toni explained.
“With a lot of these students we have to focus on building the relationship with them in order to give us an opportunity to get them to open up for us. This is a different vehicle to get them to open up to us through expression in art,” Toni said. “We wanted to showcase the student’s art and focus on the work that they were doing. Because of the grant I was able to navigate hiring an artist, Amber Scott, to oversee the art enrichment on all six campuses. Amber has worked with the site coordinators and the students to create individual projects on each campus to work on in the long term. We started our projects in October,” she said.
These type of long term projects help build relationships and produce finished projects that can be seen at the art show. Amber will curate the event in such a way as to tell the story. It will be open to the public, and the high school culinary arts department will be creating all the hors d’ oeuvres. Students will also be the entertainment and play music at the event.
“I think that is has been a huge plus and a positive experience for our students and families to do this type of thing and not just focus on the academics. We track attendance, academics and behavior, and those aren’t always fun things to talk about. So when we are looking at doing this type of thing—this is fun, this is supporting and this a different language that a student can use. Everyone has their own voice in art enrichment,” Toni said.
There are a couple of ways the public can purchase raffle tickets before the event. The tickets can be purchased in advance online at http://wichitafalls.communitiesinschools.org, or can be bought at the After Hours Art Walk on April 5th at Pocket Picassos from 4-9. They can also be picked up at the Communities In Schools office at 705 8th Street Suite 7, or if you call them at 940-264-6743, they will be glad to deliver them to you.