EFKA funds River Tree Arts experience for Middle School of the Kennebunks 6th Graders!

By Samantha Stephens
February 23, 2012 2:00 AM
MSK Photo by Isabella Kudas

KENNEBUNK — Although the hallway was quiet, several classrooms were alive with creativity at the Middle School of the Kennebunks on Thursday, Feb. 16, when River Tree Arts visited sixth-grade students.

The first-time event, featuring several teachers at River Tree Arts, allowed sixth-graders the opportunity to sign up for an artistic learning experience ranging from fashion design and improvisational skills to printmaking and guitar lessons.

Traci Gere, executive director at River Tree Arts, said the experience was unique because students had the opportunity to interact and be hands-on with unique types of artistic expressions.

“It’s important to encourage kids to develop their creativity,” Gere said. “We want to expose them to the arts but also reinforce that creativity is such an important part of life.”

Gere said the sixth-grade students were chosen due to a more flexible schedule than some of the other grades and “they’re at a great age to latch onto something.”

In a room filled with approximately 20 girls, all drawing sketches of clothing from their imagination and magazine clippings, River Tree Arts sewing and fashion teacher Vida Urbaite said she was excited to help students look at fashion in new ways.

“I hope the children look into fashion as art and less commercial,” Urbaite said. “It’s not about how much you have, fashion is about making good of any sort of material.”

Within the group, one student said she has taken up fashion design in her spare time.

“I like fashion design,” said Anna Howarth. “I’m designing my own Barbie clothes at home.”

Down the hallway in the music room, Ahmad Muhammed was teaching students improvisational and keyboarding skills.

Angelina Acedo, chosen as the first volunteer for an improvisational piano duet with Muhammed, said the experience was challenging and fun.

“I was listening to him half the time but I let my fingers do what they wanted,” Acedo said.

Karen Mathews, chorale and music teacher, said the opportunity was an exciting concept and exposing children to arts is an important cornerstone for a “well-rounded life.”

“In the age of technology, it’s important to be involved with something creative,” Mathews said. “The arts level the playing field for everyone and they can experience it together. The students are very excited.”

Unleashing their inner-monster in “I’ve Created a Monster,” led by new River Tree Arts teacher Abbeth Russell, students played an interactive drawing game that allowed them to collaborate in turn to create drawings of monsters and mythical creatures.

Jack Reetz, seated at a table with two friends, said he chose the course because “it sounded most fun.”

“You can draw anything you want,” Reetz said. “I’m becoming more colorful.”

But regardless of the classroom, whether the students were playing Hot Cross Buns on the violin for the first time like Kate Moore in “Violinist, Rocker, Jazz Cat,” or using metals and found materials to create art like Olivia Aiken in “Bike Part Art,” there was one sentiment shared by every student.

“I wish we could do this every day,” Aiken said.