Renaissance Public Academy has implemented a new art curriculum at their school recently

Renaissance Public Academy is on a mission to bring more of the arts to their little country school.

The public charter school builds their offerings around classical education, and that includes some different opportunities than a traditional public school, such as Latin studies. Now, they are blending art into the landscape of their school, beginning with a new art curriculum.

PIONEER PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Alex Poschwatta shows off his artwork at Renaissance Public Academy Dec. 7.

According to Renaissance Administrator Michael Gibson, teachers at the school had already been incorporating the arts into their regular lessons, but there was nothing official until they recently purchased the art curriculum.

The new program involves examining artists and applying the artists' methods.

"It highlights different artists: van Gogh, Michelangelo, some of the early classics and then some of the modernists also, Picasso, Venoir, Cassatt," Gibson said.

PIONEER PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Renaissance sixth grade teacher Jessica Tosti taught the first art lesson of a new curriculum on painter Frida Kahlo on Dec. 7.

On their first day of the new curriculum, Renaissance's sixth grade students learned about Mexican self-portrait painter Frida Kahlo.

"It was silent," said Jessica Tosti, Renaissance's sixth grade instructor. "They were riveted by it, by her life story, by her art. They were really involved in everything. They had questions about the art."

After the lesson, students got to work sketching their own self-portraits or fan art in Kahlo's style. Students Helana Otter and Kinzley Wilcox were focused on their portraits, and they shared their thoughts about the new curriculum.

"I like it…because it's an opportunity for more people to do art," Wilcox said.

PIONEER PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Students in Jessica Tosti's sixth grade class work on their sketches during an art lesson on Dec. 7.

Tosti, too, was impressed with the program thus far.

"I'm really excited to delve deeper into it," Tosti said. "We're just doing the introduction right now, but once we really get into it's going to be phenomenal."

With art studies now in place, Gibson is thinking ahead to add more of the arts to the school including choral and drama.

"If you want to transform schools, and transform kiddos, just bring in the arts for them," Gibson said. "Let them sing, let them dance, let them do drama. And make it just as important as all the other subjects."

Kristen Wohlers
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