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Keeping art alive

At a time when many districts are cutting art, Newhall schools realize the value in keeping visual-a

Posted: June 9, 2009 9:40 p.m.
Updated: June 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Akiko Stamer and son Teddy, 8, look at art at the annual Student Arts Show on display at Valencia Valley Elementary School Monday.

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Valencia Valley Elementary School was transformed into the Newhall School District's very own museum Monday as thousands of kid-created works of art draped the walls of the elementary school during the district's second art show.

Scenes of faraway beaches and portraits of colorful flowers and animals made with water colors, papier-mâché and chalk decorated the walls of Valencia Valley as families viewed the art, pointing out their favorite creations.

Mixed into the exhibition were tables topped with ceramic frogs on lily pads and rows of miniature terra cotta warriors created by the district's elementary school kids. Student musicians on the violin and piano performed throughout the show.

The art caught the eye of Maureen Hinton of Stevenson Ranch, who strolled the show with her two kids.

"I love it," she said. "All this work is unbelievable."

The art lessons match up with the curriculum of each grade level, illustrating art in writing, math and social studies, said John Fossa, visual arts instructor for the district.

Fossa frequently visits Newhall School District schools to lead classrooms in art lessons. He also works with teachers to create lesson plans.

Consistent research demonstrates that exposure to the arts at a young age is linked to better performance in school and to becoming active citizens in the community, Fossa said.

For Fossa, he enjoys seeing kids' art skills progress as they develop.

"It's awesome to see what they're able to do," he said.

Christine Summerell came to the show with her 6- and 7-year-old daughters.

As a Stevenson Ranch Elementary School teacher, Summerell was pleased to be part of the art show.

"I'm very excited to let the children have an opportunity to display their art," Summerell said. "It's very meaningful for the class."

Participating in an art show benefits Summerell's special-education students.

"It's an opportunity for them to express themselves," she said.

At a time when school districts across the state are chopping money for art and music programs from their budgets, Fossa is grateful to Newhall School District officials for their dedication to preserving the visual-arts program in school.

"It's a real credit to them that we're able to keep the program," he said.

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