Lucas Graham was part of the group of students who helped restore the shoreline.

Students give back to the arts community

By Darren Lum

The beauty and expression of art is the foundation of organizing work done by two Grade 7 students from J.D. Hodgson Elementary School. Annika Posti and Autumn Winder have organized for several months raising money for the Artist in the School and Community Program which is coordinated by the Arts Council ~ Haliburton Highlands.

It’s about exposing more children to art Autumn said.

“I feel like a lot of people out there who want to do art can’t. They don’t have the opportunity so we just wanted to give back to make sure they have the opportunity to do art and really cool art” she said.

Annika and Autumn as well as Grade 6 student Jackson Titus are the engine in the global issues committee at JDHES.

The yearlong effort raised $471 through a Valentine’s Day dance Christmas Elf Drive (pay to receive services from people) and Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt which had 180 students participating.

The pair went into town promising those who donated they and their peers would pick up one piece of trash for every five cents donated which resulted in $144 being raised. They expect to continue their trash collection this summer until they reach 3000 pieces (the estimate now is at 2000).

Artist in the School and Community Program co-ordinator Charlene McConnell accepted the cheque on behalf of the program on Wednesday June 19.

“We have not received a donation from students before and I think that this is an amazing contribution especially with the decline of volunteerism in general. For students to take this on at their own initiative and to choose to fundraise and donate to arts experiences for others in their age group is truly commendable and speaks well for the future of our community” she wrote in an email.

“It’s fantastic to know that these young people at JDH appreciated their arts workshops over the years and have taken steps to help continue the program. I hope they will have the opportunity to take part in workshops offered at the Youth Hub in the next few years.”

According to McConnell since 2004 the Artist in the School and Community Program has offered hands-on arts experiences presented by local artists in dance drama music painting drawing and pottery to the five elementary schools in Haliburton County. This past school year there were 64 workshops in total. Formerly the Artist in the School program it was re-named to include community so it can reach more than just elementary schools. The Arts Council through Artist in the School and Community Program has partnered with the new Youth Hub and will offer workshops to an older demographic including participants from 12 to 25 in the future.

Annika said working together closely over several events this year was never really a problem.

“We just think the same a lot of the time and we don’t really argue about stuff because we pretty much agree on stuff. And even if we don’t we’ll always decide on something” she said.

Her friend agreed and added “If we have any disagreements we’ll just figure it out and we’ll both be happy about the outcome.”

They both love how arts can be calming offering a way to express feelings.

Before they started the JDHES duo thought of giving their money to help those affected by flooding in Minden. Once it was known the flood wouldn’t be as big a problem as they thought they turned their attention to the arts because of recent government cuts to education and the arts.

Their teacher Vandenhengel helped the students by facilitating their efforts working out procedure and approvals. He was impressed by their actions and commitment.

“I’ve worked with a lot of kids on fundraising over the years and I’ve never seen two kids like this” he said.

Vandenhengel said their teamwork was integral to their success.

“It’s a special relationship in terms of how they bounce ideas off each other and are able to actually get things done … They have the wherewithal to get it done” he said.