Springfield Middle School students were treated to an artist-in-residence program last week.
In February, creative arts teachers, led by Kathy Miller, set about creating a week-long event featuring approximately 30 artists in fields ranging from photography, computer design, cross stitch, sewing, drawing, singing and other performing arts. Around the same time, students filled out four-page surveys to gauge their artistic interests, and those were used to pair the students up with the visiting artists.
Students spent 90 minutes each day learning from the visiting artists.
"We re-did all the students' schedules all week so they could participate," Miller said. "As a group, we went through [the surveys] and assigned them to an area we thought they would thrive in."
The program was an expanded version of one launched last year featuring popular musician Billy MacLaughlin. He returned this year and headlined a concert at the school Friday that featured some of the students who worked with musicians that week.
Seventh-grader Nicole Jackson was one of the students who sang on stage. Other than her two years with the middle school chorus, she has never had formal singing lessons.
"I always loved to sing," Jackson said before going onstage Friday.
With help from the program's artists, Jackson composed the lyrics for her song, "Free to Fly" last week. She left the musical accompaniment to visiting artist Drew White, a guitar player. Jackson said she learned a lot from the program.
"I learned about proper grammar on songs, the format, how to make the words flow," Jackson said. "And they taught me how to adapt my voice to match the pitch on the guitar."
Sixth-grader Adam Hjortkelsey spent his week learning about computer graphics and Web site design. "I thought it was awesome," he said.
Before the performances Friday, the school opened its doors for parents so they could see examples of the students' work. Artwork hung on boards and tables were lined with sculptures and hand-sewn items, including quilt squares and handbags.
Kristen Powell, who's in the sixth grade, spent her week sewing. She has also taken the school's regular home economics course that covers cross stitch, but this was the first time she tried quilting.
"I thought it was very creative and thought out," Powell said. "I liked it."
Powell was a little jealous of the seventh- and eighth-graders, though - they got to make handbags.
Miller said she hopes to have the program again next year. It was a valuable learning experience, she said, and worth it. "The kids loved it. I had so many say, 'I wish I could have this class all year.'"
Billy Mclaughlin headlined a concert at SMS Friday that included student performers. It was the week-long artist-in-residence program's closing event.