By SARAH LOW
For The Beachcomber
Thanks to a successful spring fundraiser and private donations, the Harbor School has launched a new arts program and also will increase the size of its physical campus for the first time with the addition of a new building.
Head of School James Cardo said the school’s new arts initiative aims to incorporate arts into all aspects of the fourth- through eighth-grade school’s curriculum.
“It’s important for kids this age to exercise that part of their brains,” he said, adding that Harbor School students have always had a strong connection to island artists, who frequently volunteer there. However, the small school’s limited resources have made it difficult to offer regular arts classes or keep a dedicated art teacher on staff.
Over the summer, however, school officials hired a part-time art teacher and created a dedicated art studio at the campus north of town.
“We really needed a space for all the wonderful artists that come here to work with the kids,” Cardo said.
With physical space already at a premium and causing a waiting list for enrollment, the only way that they could create the new studio was to move a regular classroom into a new portable building.
After raising $40,000 at the school’s annual benefit auction in March, Cardo said that the school received a generous matching donation that it was not expecting. This, along with money that the school had earmarked from three years of meeting its annual fund goals, made the plans financially viable.
“The donations were crucial,” he said.
With the money in place, the school was able to move forward, and the art studio was created by renovating one of the existing classrooms. It will continue to be used for academic classes until the new building is ready, which Cardo expects to happen in January.
“The building should be completed next month,” he said. “Then they’ll bring it over on the ferry.”
The new portable classroom will be more than 1,500 square feet, and the design will match the current building.
“It’s not your typical portable; this is going to be a permanent part of our campus,” Cardo said.
The school has hired islander Alisara Martin to head up the new arts initiative. As a part-time arts coordinator, Martin will teach arts and elective art classes, coordinate with teachers to support arts projects in other subjects and help bring artists into the school to work with students.
The total cost of the project, including renovations, the new building and staff, comes to approximately $225,000, and Cardo believes the benefits will be worth it.
“This curriculum will give the kids other avenues to express themselves in any subject area,” he said. “We want to be a contributor to the rich community of artists on the island.”