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Column: Art speaks in district during Youth Art Month

District 518 art teachers are shown at Family Art Night 2017. Pictured are (from left): Jennifer Buchholz, Kelly Knips, David Blanchard, Gail Holinka and Jayme Wiertzema. (Special to The Globe)

By Jayme Wiertzema, District 518

WORTHINGTON — March is Youth Art Month! The District 518 Art Department is ready to celebrate the importance of art for the art students in Worthington. Gail Holinka, David Blanchard, Jennifer Buchholz, Kelly Knips and Jayme Wiertzema are the art teachers in the district.

Art is a viable part of the school district because art is a language that does not need to be translated. Art can engage all learners, whether or not English is their first or second language. With the diverse population of the students, and 23 languages spoken in this community, this subject is so important to our students! Art allows all students to see and be seen, as they can use it to express themselves in a way that words do not always allow. Art speaks!

Family Art Night: Join us to celebrate Youth Art Month! “Art Speaks” Family Art Night will be from 5 to 7 p.m. March 27 in the Prairie Elementary gymnasium. This is a free event for all ages. There will be many options for art making including origami, printmaking, drawing, painting, clay, games, prizes, a photobooth and more! Everyone is welcome; children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. There will be prizes, games and fun to celebrate the importance of art for the young people of Worthington.

Art Shows: Worthington art students are also celebrating Youth Art Month by displaying their art work. Students in grades 4 through 12 currently have their art exhibited at the Nobles County Art Center. The show will be up until the end of March — make sure to stop by and check out the great things our students have created!

Later this year, fourth-grade student artwork will be showcased in the Art Gallery of the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls, S.D. This show, titled “Off the Fridge,” allows for up to 80 student artworks to be displayed in frames in the gallery. Displaying art in a gallery is an exciting thing for students to experience! The opening for this show is from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 12 and will be up until June 2. If you are in the Sioux Falls area during the month of May, check it out!

Art Department Curriculum and Mission: The District 518 Art Department is in a curriculum design year and the art faculty have been researching, visioning and planning to create an art program that will allow for all students to be successful. The art department has been working with Jeremy Holien of Perpich Art Center to research what other art programs in the state of Minnesota are doing and to help create a vision for Worthington’s unique program. Here is the mission statement of the ISD 518 Art Program:

District 518 provides educational opportunities for students to become global citizens and successful lifelong learners.

The ISD 518 Art Department believes in providing students opportunities to learn from mistakes, grow, and succeed.

We believe that art gives the original opportunity for students to learn not only from success, but from failure as well. Art develops creative thinking skills that teach students that there is more than one way to solve problems, mistakes are acceptable, and learning is an active experience in which the process is more important than the product.

Students will use art to communicate through self-expression, as well as connect with others in the community and the world. Students will be engaged through art creation, technology, collaborative projects and learn new artistic processes. Reflection and self-evaluation will allow students to grow as 21st century learners.

This vision will be carried out through art creation, curriculum writing work, engaging classroom environments, technology integration and creative displays of student artwork. The high school curriculum will be adding Advanced Art as a course offered next year, as well as an Art 2 class that will focus on an introduction to 3-D art and printmaking. Prairie Elementary added a second-grade art curriculum onto the existing third- and fourth-grade art program this school year.

There are many great things going on in the District 518 Art Program! Help us celebrate the way Art Speaks to the students in our District at the local art show, Family Art Night and the art show at the Washington Pavilion in May.

Jayme Wiertzema is an art teacher at Prairie Elementary.