Arts come to life

By Staff
Camp "Art"-selle covers wide range of topics
Haley Aaron, Hartselle Enquirer
School may be out for the summer but last week students lined the halls and filled classrooms at the old F. E. Burleson schoolhouse, which now houses the Hartselle Fine Arts Center. Forty-six area children gathered to increase their knowledge of art, drama, dance and music at the center's second annual Camp "Art"-selle.
In keeping with the camp's patriotic theme, campers painted and drew pictures of the flag and the Statue of Liberty. They performed skits that featured Revolutionary War soldiers and explored ways to "keep America beautiful". Down the hall, strains of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "America the Beautiful" could be heard as campers practice their songs in music class.
The campers were split into groups according to grade level. First grades "Stars", Second grade "Stripes", Third and Fourth grade "Eagles" and Fifth grade "Liberties" rotated classes throughout the day, the sounds of shuffling feet accompanied by the ringing of the bell once used by F. E. "Fessor" Burleson to signal the end of recess at the school.
Faye Walker, Vice-President of Hartselle Historical Society and the camp's bell-ringer, enjoys the way the building's history is being passed on to the next generation. When asked what the most rewarding part of working with the program has been, she responded, "Seeing all of the young people enjoy learning and performing on the stage and preserving the building. I like to see this building looking well."
While most of the other volunteers did not have the chance to ring the historic bell, they served as teachers and assistants, helping make sure the camp was successful. Teachers included Gayle Strider, art; Jane Walker, drama; Ali Hampton, music; and members of the Hartselle Dance team. High school students assisted in classes.
Many of the camp directors and teachers spoke about the importance and need for camps such as Camp "Art" – selle.
Camp Director Angel Rollins hopes that campers and her own children will be gain a love of the arts.
"I have a 7 year old who loves baseball but he loves art too," she said. "I just want them to grow up just knowing different things in life, and to appreciate the arts. I think it's important for any child to know about that. We're planting a seed."
Local artist and camp teacher Strider said the camp helps children discover their talent. "Every child has art in them. They don't know it, but it's there. It's just born in them. They don't have to be Rembrandts," she said.
According to Strider camps such as these are important because exposing children to art at a young age, they gain confidence and ability. "They learn to appreciate color, they learn to appreciate form, they see things that a lot of other people don't see, and it's exciting."
The camp is special because each child has a part in the skits and songs that their group presents. "It's hard to find a skit where everybody has something to do and everybody feels like they're in it and that they're special. But I think they'll like it," drama teacher Jane Walker said.
She and other teachers also expressed the hope camps such as this will inspire more fine art programs to be developed in the schools and that art will be incorporated into the classroom.
Young campers seem pleased with their experiences at the camp.
Eagle camper Wesley George enjoyed all of the activities at camp, but art and music were two of his favorite classes.
"I like art because my mom works at a frame shop," he said. George also plays the keyboard, which is why he enjoys music. He is especially looking forward to the final recital on Thursday night, when he and other campers will sing, dance, and perform skits for their parents. The artwork of campers will line the halls of the center.
Another Eagle camper, Virginia Clark Rieger, enjoyed all of her classes, and art and dance classes were her two favorite classes. "I like to dance," she said. "We get to dance and sing different songs, so it's really fun." She also enjoyed her art class, where she worked with watercolors and other mediums during the camp. "In art I'm working on a house and it's coming along good so far," she said.
The camp took place on Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration fees were $75 for each camper. A $10 discount was available for additional siblings to attend the camp.
Several local businesses and organizations helped sponsor the camp, including Remax, Nettie's Place, Russell Lumber, Dentist Dr. David Sittason, Pepsi and the Rotary Club. The camp also received a $3,000 grant from the Alabama State Council of the Arts, which helped purchase items such as props for skits and camp t-shirts.
Plans are already being made for next year's camp, which is scheduled for last week of June and organizers hope to expand the camp into a two-week camp which will also include classes for students in junior high. Plays and programs are also presented throughout the year at the center.

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