The Harbor School, in an effort to incorporate more arts education into its curriculum, is rolling out a new arts initiative and raising funds for the ambitious project.
The school plans to build a new arts classroom over the summer in its small building north of town, as well as hire an art teacher, said head of school James Cardo, making it possible for all students to take art classes as part of their regular curriculum, not just as electives.
“We’ve never had a dedicated arts space at our little school,” Cardo said.
The private secondary school’s annual auction on Saturday, called “Trip the Light on Art,” will raise money for the effort, which is expected to cost around $150,000. The event has sold out for the first time ever.
“There are a lot of people behind it, and loads of support from artists,” Cardo said.
Cuts have been made in recent years to The Harbor School’s arts program as the school felt the effects of the recession, Cardo said.
Last year the fourth- through eighth-grade school, like many schools across the country, focused on improving its science offerings, bringing in a new science teacher and building a science lab. It also now has a class set of iPads and next year will require all its middle schoolers to bring laptops to class.
The school also revamped its math curriculum several years ago, Cardo noted.
“That one’s kicking along, but we want to get back to the arts now,” he said.
School administrators are now making plans to transform a current classroom into a dedicated art space — moving one class into a portable classroom it will purchase. They also plan to hire a half-time or three-quarter-time art teacher.
Anita Halstead, former director of education at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and the grandmother of two Harbor School students, has been helping the school develop a new arts curriculum and will be involved in the hiring process.
Cardo said he’s been setting aside money to fund the project for some time now, and the school has already received some significant donations — enough to fund about a third of the capital costs.
At this weekend’s auction at the Open Space for Arts & Community, pieces by high-profile Vashon artists such as Pam Ingalls, Nadine Edelstein, Ted Kutcher and Mike Urban will be sold to the highest bidder to support the school, with some funds going specifically to the arts initiative.
So far, Cardo said, there’s been wide support for the school’s vision, and he’s optimistic the school will raise the funds.
“Any time you’re raising money on the island, there’s a lot of competition. People donate a lot. So we’re always thankful for what people give,” he said.