By Juli Morser
For Vashon Center for the Arts
In 2018, when Chautauqua Elementary Principal Rebecca Goertzel pitched the idea of an all-day arts workshop to Vashon Artists in Schools Program Manager Kaycie Alanis, Alanis didn’t think twice.
She and her collaborative team of island educators and artists took a skillful swing at the concept and hit a home run with last year’s ArtBlitz — 20 concurrent art workshops at McMurray Middle School, and five all-day workshops at Chautauqua with rotating student groups.
This year, it was Vashon High School’s turn, and on Oct. 25, Vashon Artists in Schools (VAIS) hosted 24 ArtBlitz workshops for all high school students to attend. Students could take their pick of intensives ranging from circus arts to mono printing, textiles, stage combat, cooking, choral singing and two different types of dance.
“We hit all the art disciplines,” Alanis said, adding that VHS Principal Danny Rock said he hoped students would “get their hands dirty” during the art-filled day.
Each two-and-a-half-hour workshop averaged about 20 students, with each student attending one of their top four choices.
“By the end, they all had a finished product or skill they had learned,” Alanis said.
Vashon Artists in Schools is a decades-long partnership between Vashon Center for the Arts and the Vashon Island School District that stimulates, supports and enhances K-12 arts education through artist-teacher collaborations.
While VAIS hosted ArtBlitz with island artists chosen from their roster, the PTSA (now FACE, Family and Community Engagement) fully funded these events at each school. Their support was instrumental to making these days possible, Alanis said.
One student said that it was great “to learn a new skill, chat with some friends I don’t normally see, interact with other grade levels and take a product out the door with me.”
Another student remarked that “it was a nice mix of instruction and hands-on work,” while another said that “it was so fun to learn acrobatics and other circus skills.” Yet another student summed up the day saying, “I liked pretty much everything.”
Artists and teachers also reported positive responses.
One artist said she was “delighted with the students in my workshop. They listened respectfully to the instructions, worked cooperatively and encouraged each other. Plus, they all carried my supplies out to my car and helped clean-up the classroom.”
A teacher added that she was able to explore many different sessions, “where I saw lots of focused and engaged students. It also felt great seeing students showing off their finished works to one another and to me.”
Alanis hopes to secure funding for future ArtBlitz events as bringing more art opportunities into the schools not only supports VAIS’s mission but helps to build relationships between teachers, students and artists.
“What I love about VAIS is that it jazzes the artists up — working with students gives them a whole new lens for creating and the teachers get to see what kind of art, talent and discipline is available in our own community,” Alanis said.