ArtsBridge Day brings local kids to campus

Brianna Stapleton

Many eager Appleton youths gathered on the steps of the Memorial Chapel Fri., May 4 as they prepared to meet with the Lawrence students who had worked with them over the school year.
They came together for the Lawrence University ArtsBridge Day, a day when students, host teachers, and scholars join to celebrate the interdisciplinary learning that takes place in classrooms when the fine arts combine with social studies, science, math and geography.
ArtsBridge America is a program that was founded by President Jill Beck in 1996 when she was dean of the School of Arts at the University of California, Irvine. Lawrence officially joined the ArtsBridge network in January 2005.
In the ArtsBridge program, college students go into K-12 classrooms to provide instruction in the fine arts that also ties in with other elements of the academic curriculum.
The ArtsBridge scholars, as they are called, must work closely with host teachers and on-campus advisors to develop their lesson plans.
All ArtsBridge scholars also receive a $1,500 stipend award and may receive academic credit. This year, around 16 ArtsBridge scholars participated in ArtsBridge Day, along with nearly 450 K-12 students.
This year’s ArtsBridge Day began, for some students, with dance workshops. Sophomore Gustavo Guimaraes taught Latin-American dance to a group of elementary school students in the Buchanan Kiewit Recreation Center.
Melanie Kathan, also a sophomore, was there to assist with the workshop. “Everything was going well until [Guimaraes] asked them to find a partner. Then, suddenly, the boys and girls were on opposite sides of the gym,” said Kathan with a laugh. Guimaraes eventually got the children to work together, as they danced in a circle with huge smiles.
Kelly Mulcahy, a junior studio art major and ArtsBridge scholar, observed as her students danced with Guimaraes. Mulcahy participated in “Picturing Peace,” a signature ArtsBridge project, in which students learn photography skills and take pictures of things that they feel represent peace.
These pictures, and the poems that accompany them, were displayed in Riverview Lounge as part of the ArtsBridge Exhibition.
Mulcahy said that she really enjoyed working with her host teacher and the fifth-grade class from St. Mary Margaret Elementary School. “It’s so nice to get off campus and work with kids who aren’t in college,” said Mulcahy.
While some students were dancing, others were rehearsing in the Memorial Chapel for the ArtsBridge Day performance. Gina Kluge, a teacher at Johnston Elementary School and the host for senior Clare Raccuglia’s ArtsBridge project, was full of energy as she prepared her students for rehearsal.
“We’re so excited for today!” Kluge said. Raccuglia implemented a project titled “Culture, Science, and Storytelling Through Fine Arts.”
Finally, at 11 a.m. that morning, ArtsBridge participants and members of the Lawrence community gathered in the chapel to see the final performance. Parents, teachers, and friends snapped photos as the students proudly displayed what they had learned with their ArtsBridge scholar.
The excitement was palpable as the children took the stage. Jasmine Yep, the director of ArtsBridge at Lawrence University, overheard one second-grader who said, “This is the best field trip we’ve ever been on!”
Mica Tucci, an AmeriCorps VISTA Member and Assistant Director of Lawrence University ArtsBridge, was on hand to ensure that all of the day’s events went smoothly.
“We have schools from the Appleton, Neenah and Menasha school districts,” said Tucci, citing some of the 11 schools that participated in ArtsBridge this year.
Tucci also explained the ArtsBridge schedule. “Students can apply once every semester [by the Appleton school district calendar].”
Some Lawrence students can do all-year projects, while others participate in fall semester projects and still others work with the schools during the spring semester.
To apply for the next ArtsBridge project session, which begins October 2007, aspiring ArtsBridge scholars should brainstorm project ideas and pick up an application in the International House or the Memorial Union.
Applications are due Fri., May 25 by 5 p.m. in the ArtsBridge Office at the International House.