Arrowmont now taking applications for eighth-grade program

Apr. 18, 2013 @ 11:32 PM

Applications are now being accepted for the Smoky Mountain School of Appalachian Arts and Culture at Arrowmont, a program open to all eighth-grade students in the Sevier County School System.

The three-week, no-cost program runs from May 6-25, with 45 different students attending each week. Participating students will travel by bus from their schools to Arrowmont each day. Students will return to their schools in time for regular dismissal.

The students will have an opportunity to work with Arrowmont instructors in three media: basketry, woodturning and weaving. The fourth component of the program is cultural; several historians and storytellers will come speak to the students about the area's history of arts and crafts.

"The goal is to expose our students to the history of the area, the tradition of arts and crafts in the Smoky Mountain area, and to teach them several different crafts," organizer Rob Younger said. "They'll come away with a finished product. It's an enrichment program to enhance arts and crafts in the school system."

Younger said the program, which is now in its third year, has been tweaked a little over the years. Each week, the 45 students break up into groups of 15 and spend a full school day on Monday working with one of the instructors in his or her medium.

The students rotate to another instructor and medium on Tuesday, then once again on Wednesday. On Thursday, the students will have approximately an hour and a half to finish their three products.

Arrowmont instructors Virginia McKinney, Dave Hankey and Frances Fox Shambaugh will teach basketry, woodturning and weaving, respectively.

"The Arrowmont instructors are just fantastic, and the students make some incredible products," Younger said.

Thursday evenings will feature an open house for parents and the public to view the students' finished works, as well as a performance by the Boogertown Gap band. The students will also have the opportunity to spend Thursday night at the Arrowmont dormitories under adult supervision.

The historical presentations and storytelling will be held on Fridays.

"This area has always been rich in arts in crafts," Younger said. "It's just a great opportunity, and once the students are there, it's been really good."

Students do not have to be enrolled in art classes to apply.

"Basically I'm looking for students who have a strong interest in arts and crafts," Younger said. "We usually have the same number of applications as we have spots. We rarely have to turn students away."

Younger delivers the applications to each school. Applications should be turned in to the art teacher at each school.

There is no cost to apply or attend. Bus transportation, food, overnight accommodations, materials and instruction are all provided.

rhargett@themountainpress.com