Artists celebrated

Classrooms at a local charter school are coming to life with art this week.
Krystle Wagner
Mar 19, 2014

More than 35 guests will visit West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics during the Ferrysburg school’s weeklong Festival of the Arts.

From noon to 3 p.m. each day, students will hear from dancers, theater performers, artists and more as they take a closer look at all forms of art. Guests range from high school and college students to adults of all ages to show students they can get involved at any age, said Carolyn Gilmore, the school’s arts coordinator.

The public is welcome to attend the events.

Gilmore said the weeklong celebration is a 13-year-old tradition in which guests speak to students about how they got involved in their art form and how they use it.

“We want kids to see that art is everywhere,” she said.

As some classrooms work on projects, seventh- and eighth-grade students are working on a vaudeville act, and the eighth-graders are working with a filmmaker to create a silent film.

Eighth-grader Makayla Suszka worked with her peers and local artist Lisa Paulus to turn a blank wall into a canvas for a school mural. Paulus created a mural comprised of student ideas and themes to visually represent the school.

As Suszka painted a pencil on the wall, she said the festival is a chance to expose students to different types of art, and they can try things they might not otherwise do.

Paulus said volunteering for the mural allowed her to interact with students and see their talents.

“It’s fun to share something with them that I learned,” the Norton Shores woman said.

Ellen Sprouls, who works at Grand Valley State University, worked with preschoolers, kindergartners and first-graders to paint mice to reflect the book, “Mouse Paint,” which educates children about colors. Students used Q-tips to dip into drops of paint, and then press them onto a piece of paper. Once the paint dries, Sprouls said students will turn the dots into mice by adding ears, a tail and a face.

Sprouls said she hopes students take away from the Festival of the Arts knowing that art takes all forms.

“Art can be fun,” she said.

For more information about Festival of the Arts, call the school at 616-844-9961, or e-mail Gilmore at

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