Art’s back at Opp High School
Published 1:42 am Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Opp High School students again have the opportunity to put their artistic abilities to work in a structured setting.
When educational funding dwindled in 2008, schools across the state lost programs that weren’t mandatory, including art.
“You have to teach the mandatory subjects, so at the end of the day you can’t cut the things that are mandated,” OHS Principal Ron Snell said. “More and more people all around the state were forced to cut art because it was the next least damaging subject.”
However, OHS has provided that much-needed outlet in a free, after-school art program, taught by local artist Liz Reid.
“We’re blessed not just for this program, but for having Ms. Reid’s talents,” Snell said. “This program helps Opp High School to connect to the kids and meets their needs.”
Reid, who has been teaching varied art classes since the early 1980s, said she immediately accepted the opportunity when OHS contacted her.
“They called me and asked if I’d be interested in teaching the class,” she said. “I have worked in the art field for forever.”
Since graduating from the Ringling College of Art and Design, Reid said she’s always had classes, either in her personal studio or elsewhere.
“I’ve taught classes in watercolor, oil painting, porcelain painting, acrylic and just general art classes,” she said.
Reid said she decides what she teaches in the OHS classes based on past experiences and what interests the class the most.
“I like to find out what they’re interested in and lead with that,” she said. “The first week I just set up some still lifes and tried to evaluate where each student was artistically.
“I asked them what they wanted to do; what were they interested in and why they were here,” Reid said.
The classes at OHS meet every Tuesday at 3:15 p.m. during the school year, and during yesterday’s class, Reid taught the students how to make paper mache masks.
“I decided with Halloween coming that it would be a good thing to teach,” she said. “I think about things I’ve taught in children’s classes over the years, and paper mache has always been a favorite for them.”
The after-school program is offered to students as a release, like sports and civic clubs, to give a reprieve from the mandatory subjects they have during school hours and as a connection to the school.
“Art is a niche that gives the kid an outlet that they look forward to doing,” Snell said. “We’d love to have it five days a week, but even if it’s just one day a week at least it gives them a good foundation and a connection.”