PLEASANTVILLE — Students at the Washington Avenue School are learning about papier-mache through a $4,000 arts grant from Young Audiences Arts for Learning of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, one of two grants the school received this year.

The grant allows the school to introduce students in Tara Bach’s art classes to the medium through a 13-week residency with artist Molly Gaston-Johnson that began in December.

“Students will observe and learn from a professional artist and, as we create large props for our spring musical, students will have the opportunity to reflect on the impact of visual arts on the performing arts. This is an opportunity for students to experience the creation of exciting collaborative sculpture and installation from mostly recycled materials, teaching them lessons in construction, craftsmanship and sustainability,” Bach said.

A second $5,000 grant from the organization allows for several art-related assemblies with a language arts focus. The first assembly in January was titled “Stories and Songs in the African Oral Tradition.”

According to the nonprofit Young Audiences, the programs are developed to maximize students’ experiences with quality arts programs, provide opportunities to understand the cultural importance of the arts and creativity, and connect to classroom curriculum and their lives.

“Washington Avenue Elementary School’s application demonstrated a real commitment to offering its students exceptional arts programming — and a need for financial assistance to make that happen,” said Michele Russo, President and CEO of Young Audiences.

Gaston-Johnson visits about once per week and has been scheduled to see each class in the school at least once so the whole school can take part.

Pieces made during the residency will be on display at the school’s upcoming “Art in the Afternoon” interactive art show and school play, “Aladdin.”

Washington Avenue was one of eight schools in the region to be awarded the grants.

This is the third year the school has been awarded Young Audiences grants. Previous grants were for music education and visual arts.

Contact: 609-272-7251 CLowe@pressofac.com Twitter @clairelowe

Staff Writer

I began covering South Jersey in 2008 after graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism. I joined The Press in 2015. In 2013, I was awarded a NJPA award for feature writing as a reporter for The Current of Hamilton Township.

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