By Anna Smith-Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With the first semester of the Prairie Rose Art Institute well underway, students are taking the chance to hone their skills in sketching, painting and sculpture across the Prairie Rose School Division.
Based in Parkside School, instructor Kameko Ballantyne teaches students throughout the school division through the use of digital classrooms, as well as the physically present Parkside students. The participating schools include Foremost School, Jenner School, Seven Persons School, South Central High School and Senator Gershaw School.
The program focuses on students from grads 7–12, said Ballantyne.
“We wanted to target the students that are really starting to develop in their artistic skills and help guide them to become masters by the end of grade 12,” said Ballantyne, “We found that not all students within the school have an art instructor. So with me having my art background, it was an opportunity for students who wanted to continue and develop and master, their art has an instructor who had an art background.”
The main portion of the curriculum includes drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well teaching students the tools needed to present themselves as professional artists, such as portfolio building and how to give and receive critical feedback on their artwork.
“They learn how to represent themselves as artists and as an art professional and just learn the simplicity and the complexity of the principles and elements of design in art,” said Ballantyne.
The institute runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, coinciding with the scheduled time for option classes at Parkside School, at the same time as students currently enrolled in the Hockey Academy take for their specialized classes as well. Students receive a credit, as they would with any other option course, and a mark for their art at the end of the semester.
The institute allows for students that attend schools that may not have a dedicated art teacher to learn from someone with an art background, which can be immensely helpful for those looking to master their creative expression.
“It is highly important,” said Ballantyne. “For me, art is the foundation for all subjects. It allows us to explore ourselves, explore outside of ourselves, it improves creativity. It builds relationships within art, our mental health, our self reflection. It helps build with peers and how we give critical feedback. It helps show growth within ourselves and how we can apply Problem Solving, it improves self esteem and sense accomplishment. Art is known for being a stress reducer. And it actually improves creative thinking.”
“I was reading a study the other day that students that create art actually do better within their core classes, if they have art as an option or have artistic expression, whether that’s music or creating arts, right, so I could go on for 20 minutes why it’s important for students,” said Ballantyne.