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Pre-K art classes raising money for supplies

South Boston News
A public-school student in last year’s Pre-K Arts Academy wields her paintbrush over extra-large paper. The program, which immerses four-year-olds in the fine arts, needs funds to replenish its consumable supplies like paint, paper and clay. / August 30, 2010
Busy little hands go through lots of consumables in a school year: white glue (almost three gallons), tissue paper (sheet upon sheet), paint (more than you can imagine), modeling clay (by the case).

The Prizery Pre-K Arts Academy, the unique program for four-year-olds operated for Halifax County Public Schools, is fund-raising for its materials budget.

The stuff may be just paint and paper and clay – but under the tutelage of the dynamic instructor Susi Robbins, they become framable portraits, wind chimes, collages.

The good news is that some items, scissors and smocks, for example, are good from year to year. Plus, Robbins is a thrifty genius at recycling household items like paper-towel tubes into works of art.

In the past, businesses have made donations to buy art supplies, and Robbins hopes that will expand to include individual donors.

Robbins’ little charges study Native Americans, pond life, the frog life cycle, fall leaves and even architecture – all through the lens of art. And while doing it, they hone fine-motor skills, powers of observation, concentration – and they get to make a mess.

“Most of these kids have never painted before – all they’re used to is crayons and markers at home,” laments Robbins.

At The Prizery, the more than 260 four-year-olds also study music and dance. Each class comes one morning per week. Studies show that quality pre-k is a sound investment: It leads to academic and behavioral gains that last into adulthood, including the reduction of delinquency and crime.

Valdivia Marshall, Halifax County Public Schools’ executive director of federal programs, endorses the Pre-K Academy and the get-ready-for-big-school groundwork it lays.

“The Pre-K Arts Academy compliments the Pre-K curriculum by providing preschoolers with skills that promote future academic success. … Most activities in the art class require observing and reflecting upon the best way to illustrate something. Observing and reflecting are essential skills for math problem solving,” Marshall says. “We are very fortunate to have this partnership between Halifax County Public Schools and The Prizery.”

Donations, which are tax-deductible, may be marked “Pre-K Arts” on the subject line and sent to The Prizery, 700 Bruce St., South Boston, Va. 24592

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