Rawlins celebrates the arts, creativity
By Mathew McKay
RAWLINS — Every parent waits to hear their child’s first words and to see their child’s first steps. In many ways, they are the beginning forms of singing and dancing. In honor of all art forms, staff and students of Carbon County schools celebrate National Arts Week.
Throughout the week, pictures and quotes have been hanging around the halls of Rawlins Middle School, expressing the importance of fine arts.
Jamie Chapman, art teacher at Rawlins Elementary and Rawlins Middle Schools, said the week is extra special this year because of the work Carbon County School District No. 1 has put into the arts programs.
“They have really stepped up to make sure we have art for our students,” Chapman said. “We did not have an elementary program until last year. Last year, I did K-6 and seventh and eighth grades did not have art.”
Chapman said this year she is working with kids from kindergarten through eighth grades each for a quarter and it has created some excitement.
Working through a Title One grant, Chapman said she has based a lot of her projects on the reading curriculum.
“We might be building characters from stories that they are reading or taking an idea and talk about what it is like to draw or paint that idea,” she said.
Meeting with students before class Tuesdays and Thursdays at RMS, Chapman said she enjoys the group because it has gotten the students to push their limits — something that seems to come with fine arts.
“No matter if you take choir, orchestra, band, or visual arts, you try something and then you push yourself to try more,” she said. “It is you, pushing you. It is like swimming as an individual sport. If you are working in a group, like choir, you also have to flex yourself to those around you.”
Later this month, Chapman and Rawlins Elementary will be featured in National Elementary School Principles, a national magazine for creativity because of the art program she had last year.
“No other school in the state in Wyoming has ever gotten that kind of recognition, so that is really exciting,” she said.
Music is Art
Caitlin Cantrell, RMS choir teacher, said starting out the year, a lot of her class has been focused on building communication. Throughout the year, she said it is her goal to develop a basic understanding for sheet reading and how to express themselves through the notes.
Teaching choir, Cantrell has a deep passion for music and said fine arts are essential for children for so many reasons.
“If we are so focused on standardized test scores and making sure they get an ‘A’ in science and an ‘A’ in math, what does that say about their human development?” Cantrell said. “Yeah, you can be a really good scientist, mathematician or writer, but if you are not learning to express yourself and not learning to talk through disagreements, humanity is not going to be super great in the end.”
Cantrell said she best relates choir to the song ‘If Music be the Food of Love’ because
it describes how music fashions so many emotions in such a way most people cannot understand in words alone.
“There is a reason people go to movies and plays and listen to music,” she said. “It is because their words cannot describe (their ideas). They cannot write it down, they just have to feel it.”