LOCAL SCHOOLS WORKING TO SAVE ART PROGRAMS
Laurel Tree Charter School in Arcata is working to save their art programs. With cuts being made to schools across California, Laurel Tree has taken it upon themselves to make sure art stays alive in their school. Painting classes, theater, and sewing are just some of the programs that are becoming extinct in California schools. Alyse Eckenrode is a teacher at Laurel Tree and said, "I think it's important for kids to have a well rounded education. Not to just be taught math and science but to see there’s importance in speaking another language, painting a picture and valuing art."Laurel tree has no art teacher on staff; instead they bring in local artists to teach their students. Eckenrode added, "it's really important for our kids to see that we value all areas of intelligence and all areas of education."The state doesn’t pay for the art classes, and so the teaching staff depends on fundraisers and donations. Eckenrode said, "We budget almost $20,000 a year in parent donations and fundraisers. And so we rely on that to fund our Friday programs."Students only get one day a week of art classes. For three hours on Fridays they get to express their creativity. Eckenrode added, "they love it on Friday’s they are always so proud of their work. They love learning the new skills… they are really enthusiastic."Joshua Nikolauson teaches at Laurel Tree and says because they are a charter school they wear many hats. Nikolauson added, "I might be counseling a student with support, might be cleaning a toilet out, I might be helping in the kitchen.”But he is happy to wear all those hats if it means protecting their art program. Nikolauson added, "it's really important to be able to open their eyes up and see beautiful things and know how to create and express themselves in different ways."To benefit their arts and culture programs Laurel Tree will be holding a fundraiser at the Azalea Hall in Arcata tomorrow night. For more information you can call 822-5626.