Administrator praises Arrowmont’s efforts

Program teaches students about Appalachian heritage
Apr. 21, 2013 @ 08:13 AM

An opportunity to explore the heritage of Appalachia awaits eighth-grade students enrolled in Sevier County Schools. Smoky Mountain School of Appalachian Arts and Culture at Arrowmont will accept 45 students to participate in the program, which will take place from May 6-25.

Interested students must apply for the experience. Those selected will have a hands-on introduction to area’s history of arts and crafts, learning such skills as basketry, wood-turning, and weaving.

The program is more than just learning to craft, however. Students will also benefit from learning about the area’s history of arts and crafts through several storytellers and historians.

“The program is a collaboration between Arrowmont and Sevier County schools. It’s designed to not only teach the students Appalachian crafts, but to give background understanding and appreciation of Appalachian Heritage,” said Arrowmont Executive Director Bill May.

Pi Beta Phi Principal Glenn Bogart is an advocate of the program, and said the students from his school benefit immensely from the experience. “Each year the program has grown in quality and purpose,” he said. “It’s important for all students, but especially for outgoing eighth graders to be aware of our Southern Appalachian Heritage.”

Bogart also explained that due to proximity, Pi Beta Phi students are fortunate in that they benefit from Arrowmont throughout their elementary years. “For us it provides students with a wonderful culminating project because they’ve been involved in it,” he said.

Bogart also said part of the success of the program is due to the application process. “The students apply, so they bring with them a desire to become involved in this week-long adventure. It’s a good marriage between the student and the event,” he said.

May said the program is also a great self-esteem builder for many students.

“By coming here, students are able to make something tangible and tap into their creativity and imagination,” he said. “We’ve had some that were not great students, but they have been able to display talent and have it recognized and appreciated by their peers when they come here. That’s always rewarding.”

The program is cost-free to students who are admitted. It is funded through  the collaborative efforts of the government and local business and industries.

“The entire community recognizes its importance,” May said.

“Even though there are so many things going on in May, and it’s a busy time, Arrowmont is high on our list of priorities,” Bogart said. “We are thankful to Arrowmont and the school system for providing the experience to these very deserving eighth grade students,” Bogart said.

n jfrye@themountainpress.com