Program encourages students to display artistic sides during extra learning days

September 28, 2009 

  • Classes offered at Beaufort Elementary include: • Beaufort's Built Environment, a course using the architecture and landscape on Bladen Street as a laboratory • Basic Earth Skills, an ancient-arts course • Bay Street Gallery Walks, a tour and critique of Beaufort art galleries • Center Stage, a musical theater course Classes offered at the Hilton Head Island schools complex include: • Dust to Dynamite, a ceramics course • Broadway Bound, a musical theater course • Cooler Heads Prevail: Symbolism in Art, a visual arts class featuring a mannequin head as a blank canvas • The Hilton Head Art League and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra also will sponsor a joint session. How to register For more information about the DaVinci Days workshops, contact Sanny Wartko at 843-342-4245 or Brochures and information also are available at county schools.

A new series of free workshops will be offered to artistically gifted students in Beaufort County next month, giving them an opportunity to take classes directly from arts professionals.

The Beaufort County School District's first "DaVinci Days" will be Oct. 26 through 30 and open to students in grades three through eight who have been identified as "artistically gifted and talented," using S.C. Department of Education standards.

Courses include musical theater, ceramics and visual arts, as well as a study of the architecture and landscape of Bladen Street in Beaufort.

"This gives children something extra to do that is an out-of-the-ordinary experience from what they would do during the regular school year," said Margaret Rushton, the district's fine-arts coordinator. "It's an in-depth, concentrated study."

Students must register for the workshops by Friday.

Money from the state Department of Education earmarked for gifted and talented education will pay for the workshops, Rushton said. No transportation or meals will be provided.

School districts across the state are required to provide education for artistically and academically gifted students. Money is distributed each year through a formula based on the number of eligible students, among other factors.

During the past two years, the Beaufort County district has pushed to identify more students as artistically talented, said Sanny Wartko, program coordinator. Such students are eligible for arts-related honors classes, a summer camp and other clinics and festivals, such as DaVinci Days. The next screening will take place in January, Wartko said.

In the past, the annual summer Sea Island School for the Arts and Academics provided much of the district's education for artistically gifted students. But this year, the summer camp was cut back from three to two weeks. Money saved will help pay for the October workshops, Rushton said.

"It's probably best to try to offer a varied slate of offerings during the school year, rather than just one time," Wartko said. "That way, hopefully, more students will be able to participate."

DaVinci Days will be held during the district's extended-learning days, when most county students are on break. Twenty additional class days were added to the school year for extended learning to help to students who tested below "basic" levels on state-mandated tests.

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