Art exposure for teens at West Center

       An after-school program that emphasizes art for middle-school-age teens is thriving, with room for more students, according to Sherry Bennett, a staffer at the West Center.

Students in West Center's teen program show off tiles they made. From left (front row): Adrianna Harris, Airan Roslaniec, Nate Brown and Erick Knudson; and (back row) Jacob Carson, Connor Stout and Justin Edgar.
Westside Pioneer photo

       One of the early projects is visible on the community center's outside tables, where layers of colorful tiles have been glued onto the surfaces. Such a project was new to the students, who can attend the program for free if their parents' income qualifies them for free lunches in school (class is $1.75 a day otherwise.)
       “None of them had much experience in art,” said Bennett. “I try to help them as much as I can.”
       The class meets three hours Monday through Friday. The timing is similar to previous after-school programs when the center was still part of West Middle School, except that then kids got to play video games once they finished their homework. This year, with the center having moved to the former Buena Vista school at 1628 W. Bijou St., homework is mixed in with learning different art forms or other ways of being creative - even how to cook. “At first they complained,” Bennett said. “They wanted to play video games. But now they can't wait.”
       As for the cooking, they've already had a chili cook-off and “sometime soon they're going to serve their parents dinner,” Bennett exulted.
       More students, including those at Holmes Middle, are welcome in the program. For more information, call West at 385-7920.

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