GFPS Summer Art Camp was one of the camps students could choose from this past June. The camp was free to all who registered because of ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds. About 200 students attended the two sessions (June 20-24 for grades K-4, June 27-July 1 for grades 5-6). Four GFPS art teachers taught the first week and two taught the second week. CMR art students and an art student teacher also helped out.
Attending students spent 2 hours a day engaging in different projects that spanned over the course of the week. Tess Jacobs, one of the GFPS art teachers, described the week of activities as such: “ Students were introduced to all the elements of design by working with 2-D, and 3-D materials. They were allowed to work on an extended project that involved planning, application and closure with a critique at the end. Throughout the camp, students were exposed to a wide variety of solutions due to the social environment. They also viewed a variety of art in the O.C. Seltzer Gallery.”
Dusty Molyneaux, Fine Arts Department Supervisor, noted the highlight of the camps as “Lots of smiles!” He said working on a project for 2 concentrated hours a day “really stirs the creative juices”. “I believe the highlight was watching the students amaze themselves!!” observed Mr. Molyneaux. He remarked how parents were appreciative of the fact the fine arts department offered the camp. Tess loved hearing students’ excited voices when they discovered blending colors and new tactile experiences. She noted there were many “Look what I did” moments. Parents were delighted and the student volunteers learned as much as the camp participants. Cleaning their own tools was very popular. Who wouldn’t love that?
All worthwhile endeavors are not without challenges, this camp being no exception. Finding June dates so as not to conflict with other GFPS camp offerings;organizing and working through the logistics of holding this type of camp; researching, ordering and attaining supplies in time (Supply chain issues are still happening!), and completing ESSER paperwork were a few of the challenges faced by the department.
Mr. Molyneaux states, “Great Falls Public Schools always keeps the district’s strategic goals in mind when planning and implementing curricular activities so students receive and ACHIEVE the best educational opportunities possible. These two art camps were able to expand on skills kids were already learning in their art classes as well as add some new skills. Students were able to do projects that could be done over multiple days instead of having to wrap up in 45 minutes like a normal school art project.”
Mr. Molyneaux emphasizes that the ARTS are the original Socio-emotional teaching mode. He says, “You want kids to be in touch with their emotions and feel good about themselves and also get along with others? Give them more ARTS classes and experiences. You want kids to be creative problem solvers and be independent thinkers? Give them more ARTS classes and experiences. You want kids to grow up to be productive citizens in our society? You want them to work well in groups as well be capable of self-management on projects? Give them more ARTS classes and experiences.”
Thank you to Dusty, the teachers, staff, volunteers, students, and parents for making this ESSER funded summer camp a high success. Through the two week art camp students were given as much art as an elementary student receives in one school year. What a gift!