Column: Plenty of art activities in District 518 classrooms

By Kelly Knips, District 518 WORTHINGTON -- The art classrooms in District 518 are flourishing, and we are already starting to see the benefits of adding art in the younger grades at Prairie Elementary. Last year was the first year that art was a...


By Kelly Knips, District 518

WORTHINGTON - The art classrooms in District 518 are flourishing, and we are already starting to see the benefits of adding art in the younger grades at Prairie Elementary. Last year was the first year that art was added to grades three and fourm and it is noticeable as these students move forward to the middle school and come in having a background of art knowledge.


Students and staff at Prairie Elementary continue to enjoy having art education in the school during its second year at the elementary school. Each week, students in third and fourth grade engage in art creation with Mrs. Wiertzema for one hour in their classroom. Mrs. Wiertzema teaches art from a cart, and brings in various resources and art supplies for students when entering their classrooms.



Students in third- and fourth-grade art have been learning about science, history, reading, math and more through art projects. This emphasis of connecting art to other subjects will no doubt increase student knowledge in all areas. Art makes learning more exciting and fun for students in third and fourth grade. So far this year, students have learned about famous artists, new and old, various art styles and techniques in drawing and painting. We have discussed creativity and confidence as an artist and created various art projects to go along with these concepts. Students use technology in art to watch instructional videos created by Mrs. W, share artwork and critique on the SeeSaw Application on their iPads that can also be viewed by families.  

Students had various opportunities to engage in art activities this year. In October, 69 students attended the Young Artists Conference in Marshall. During parent-teacher conferences, students in grades K-4 were invited to attend Family Art Night with their families. Students and families alike enjoyed a night of creation, exploring and learning together.


To build on the basic foundations introduced in the elementary program, students at the middle school (grades 5-8) continue to explore art at each grade level for nine weeks, 40 minutes a day. They also learn about various artists, painting, drawing and ceramics.  This year’s fifth-grade class was the first to come to the middle school with prior art knowledge from the elementary art program. It was awesome to see how much they learned in just one year with Mrs. Wiertzema, and it allowed Mr. Blanchard to teach more in-depth projects at their level. Mr. Blanchard has been working at the middle school for 14 years and spreads his excitement for art to his students. He teaches the art classes for grades 5-7, while Mrs. Knips is in her second year teaching in the district and teaches the eighth-grade art classes. Each grade level participates in a clay/ceramics unit during their nine-week class, and it seems to be a favorite for many of the middle school students.


Mrs. Knips also teaches art at the ALC for the high school students and the middle level program. This year we also added a “newcomers” class that provides a beginning art class for students that are new to the country. The students enjoy having a hands-on class where they get to create something tactile and express themselves through art. The ALC art program will get the opportunity to try out a new product through the innovators grant this year.  There is a product called the 3doodler which is a pen that creates 3D creations - similar to a 3D printer, but in pen form. The students will get to test it and give feedback on the product so that we can write a review and see if this is a product we would like to purchase more of for our classroom in the future.



At the high school, students can select from many art studio classes and technology courses including Photography and Computer Graphics. Mrs. Holinka has been teaching art at the high school for many years, and Ms. Buchholz has been teaching there for the last three years. They do a great job of refining the students’ art skills and helping them find their own individual styles.


With District 518 being an extremely diverse district, art teachers embrace language barriers in the art room. Art is a visual learning and self-exploration class, so newcomers to Worthington often find themselves in our classes first. Students are able to learn through art and be successful, even if English is not their first language.

The parents and art teachers of District 518 are extremely thankful to have the wonderful support of our administration and school board members. When many other schools across the nation have cut the arts, our programs remain strong and continue to grow. We are grateful to be in a community that understands the holistic approach and the benefits of the arts.

Art in the Community Our art department is always working towards finding connections within the community to spread passion for the arts. March is Youth Art Month, and we wanted to give students and the community multiple opportunities to be involved in viewing art, interacting with artists and creating art. One way to build a connection is to display art in the community. Prairie Elementary currently has artwork on display around the community. You can find these displays at the YMCA as well as at the vet clinic, and are welcome to view them during business hours. If you are a local business owner and are interested in displaying student artwork in your business, please contact a teacher in the art department.  Also, you can usually see displays of artwork hung in the hallways in each school.


Another great opportunity to see a variety of student artwork and interact with students is at our annual student art show. The artwork being displayed will be selected from students in grades 4-12. The opening of the art show will take place at the Nobles County Art Center on Friday, March 3 from 5 to 7 p.m.; refreshments will be available. The art will be displayed all throughout the month of March. The opening will be a great way to collaborate and connect with the artists, other students, the art teachers and community members. We hope to see you there!



One more art event that you can mark on your calendars is “Youth Art Month Art Night,” which will take place on March 23 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. This event will be open to the public, and there will be multiple stations set up to create many different kinds of artwork.  It will be a fun night of making memories and making artwork to take home.


Building art experience through kids and the community helps them to connect and be involved in the art community past high school, which is a goal we have for our students. We will continue to provide ways for students to be involved with art outside of our classrooms with the hopes that they will also see a future with art outside of school.

Thank you all for your support and commitment to education for our students in District 518.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONART
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