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Saugus district spotlights arts in summer enrichment program

Three-week session funded by grants, tuition

Posted: July 12, 2009 10:16 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2009 8:00 a.m.

Jackson Simons, left, and Maupin Sinjin look over ceramics figures made by Saugus Union School District students during the first three-week summer arts program for elementary school students. Kids showed and performed during the final showcase at Rosedell Elementary School on Friday afternoon.

 
While many school districts facing budget cuts have slashed summer school offerings and arts programs, the Saugus Union School District was able to offer arts-enrichment classes this month, thanks to a grant and tuition paid by parents.

"We're trying to emphasize and show that the arts program is important to schools," Rosedell School teacher Lana Stanzione said during a student performance Thursday.

"It wouldn't have happened if we didn't have the support of the parents," said Joan Lucid, assistant superintendent of instruction and curriculum.

It was the first time Saugus Union offered a summer arts enrichment program for students, and the district was happy the hard work paid off, Lucid said.

"The kids have had a fabulous experience," she said.

More than 100 parents turned out for the performance at Rosedell.

The classes were open to incoming third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from all of Saugus Union's 15 elementary schools.

Students chose whether they wanted to focus on dance, drama, visual arts, general music, chorus or band.

Classes were held four days a week at Rosedell, and families paid $100 tuition for the three-week program.

Lucid said the program not only offered experience in the arts but also built self-confidence in the participants.

About 40 students participated in the visual arts program, which allowed students to get their hands dirty making miniature ceramic sculptures from start to finish, as well as paintings and sketching, Stanzione said.

Each of the students took home 10 holiday-themed ceramic pieces.

Sage Peterson-Henry, 9, spent three weeks in the visual arts program making ceramics for the first time.

"It was all sorts of fun activities that I had never done before," said Peterson-Henry, who attends Rio Vista Elementary School.

The program meant Nova Mandel, 10, could perfect her acting skills, which she presented to a crowd of parents and school leaders in a series of skits.

"Acting is in my blood and I'm very good at it," the Rosedell sixth-grader said. "I like being other characters."

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