Saturday, February 18, 2006

Art Saturday: Here's One Heck Of An Art Program!

They're beating down the doors to get into one Massachusetts high school art teacher's class:
For many teenage artists at Belmont High School, the prestigious Advanced Placement studio art class is as sought after as a scholarship to an Ivy League college.

"It's the class for kids that really want to pursue art," said teacher Mark Milowsky.

Students such as senior Bekka Keithley have aspired to take Milowsky's AP art class since their freshman year.

"I've always wanted to be in the AP class," Keithley said during the annual student art show at the Mass. Audubon Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary Habitat last Sunday. "I like drawing art and it is the highest art class there is."

Along with learning new skills, the AP class gives students the opportunity to sell their work in the annual school auction, to take a trip to Paris and, for the past seven years, to showcase their hard work at the annual art show.

The event gives students the opportunity to participate in a professional-caliber show by hanging their own creations in an art gallery, and handing out invitation cards highlighting one of their pieces from the show.

"I wanted to make them feel like artists," said Milowsky. "I wanted to take them out of the high school and put them in the community."

Some students, like Keithley, even sold their pieces, adding to the professional feel of the show.

"It feels weird but exciting," Keithley said after a stranger offered to purchase her charcoal art about feet.

Approximately 300 people attend the art show ever year to view everything from oil paintings to mixed media pieces.

Alison Borelli came to the show to view her daughter's work and said she was struck by the amazing range of talent.

"It's amazing how good they are at this age," she said.

Amy Cohen was admiring the show with her husband, Robert, and agreed that the pieces on display were impressive for the age of the artists.

"The subjects chosen really represent their individual personalities," she said. Cohen's son, Michael, submitted two fashion sketches to the show.

The class is known for being challenging because it requires students to come up with their own pieces using different techniques.

Michael Cohen, a junior, aspires to become a fashion designer someday and said he applied for the class because he felt it was necessary to combine his two passions - drawing and fashion.

"I thought it was the right place to work it out," he said.

Since Milowsky started the AP program seven years ago, the class has produced some hot prospects in the art world. Many of Milowsky's students have been heavily recruited by some of the major colleges in the country. Many of the students have also won local and national awards.

Some college recruiters come to the class during the school year to view the artwork and choose the students they want, Milowsky said. Some students have even been asked to graduate early from high school to attend college.

"These schools are calling me constantly," Milowsky said. "They come to the school and they hand-pick the kids as though they are athletes. It's already happened to five students in class."

What separates the AP students from the regular art class is that they understand the role of an artist, Milowsky said.

The AP students understand how to sacrifice their time, he said, and they believe in their art when nobody else does. They are willing to give their weekends, and even in some cases, skip other classes.

"I have very strong, passionate students," Milowsky said.
There's more to read in the whole piece. See the website for Belmont's art program right here.

Sadly, due to budgetary constraints, our junior high school here in California's "Imperial" Valley eliminated the art teacher's position this year. But despite these lean financial times, district officials did somehow find the necessary funding to give all school administrators yet another pay increase. This year's raise was 4%.

Classroom teachers, on the other hand, have had no type of pay increase whatsoever in over four years.

And yet we keep raising those test scores.
See our latest education-related posts right here.