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Wintergreen officials looking forward to expanded Summer Arts program

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — With more classes than they’ve ever offered before, Wintergreen Arts Center officials are hoping to make this year’s Summer Arts program one of the most memorable for budding young artists.

Starting on July 8 the nonprofit arts center will begin offering nearly a dozen art-based camps, classes and special events designed to give creatively minded children a fun artistic outlet during the summer months. Topics for the six weeklong camps include musical storytelling, photography, unicorn camp, wizard camp, story and art camp and STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics.

For the first time this summer the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance has chosen Wintergreen as one of the sites for their AR Girls program, which aims to help girls ages 12 to 16 complete augmented reality projects that connect with important issues facing their communities.

The MMSA describes augmented reality as “a contemporary mode of interactive storytelling in which a computer or mobile device is employed to blend real-life and digital content.”

AR Girls runs from July 22 to Aug. 2 and will include the two-week workshop, short weekly meetings in September and October and a community showcase event later this fall.

Wintergreen will receive a $4,000 stipend from MMSA to host AR Girls this year and $10,000 to continue the program next summer.

In addition to the camps, Wintergreen summer instructor Shaye McHatten is also offering Art With Heart at the Presque Isle Housing Authority’s The Lighthouse building and choreographed dance at the Sargent Family Community Center as six-week courses.

Every Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m., starting on July 11, McHatten will host a Teen Art Night at The Lighthouse. On Fridays from 2 to 3 p.m., starting on July 12, she will lead arts and craft activities with children and patients at the Presque Isle Rehab and Nursing Center.

Wintergreen executive director Dottie Hutchins said that ever since McHatten began teaching the enrollment for summer courses has increased from 48 students her first year to 186 students registered so far this year.

“Shaye has really brought a new look and new energy to our summer program,” Hutchins said.

McHatten, a native of Mapleton, will soon be a senior education major at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, and is returning home to teach for Wintergreen for the third consecutive summer. She initially taught Art With Heart, which focuses on arts and crafts activities, and photography.

The concept of Art With Heart came from a Champlain College program called DREAM that pairs students with children in low-income neighborhoods to create summer activities and serve as mentors. McHatten now offers Art With Heart in two six-week sessions, one for grades K to three on Mondays and Wednesdays and another for grades four to eight on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The program is free for residents of the Presque Isle Housing Authority.

“I saw how much the kids benefited from the DREAM program and thought it would be great to help implement something like that at Wintergreen,” McHatten said.

Due to the growing popularity of McHatten’s Art With Heart, photography and choreographed dance courses, she and the volunteers at Wintergreen began thinking of more courses that could engage students with art in new ways.

For instance, the musical storytelling class for grades four to eight flips the idea of traditional musicals on its head. Instead of breaking out into song and dance during scenes, students will act out the story that singer Billy Joel tells in his song “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.”

Many of the new classes combine two or more aspects of art, such as in the grades K to three-based Story and Art Camp where students create crafts after listening to McHatten read a story.

In STEAM Camp, which has sessions for grades K to three and 4 to 8, she will utilize lessons from both STEM and art subjects to help students make projects such as robots and “magnetic slime.”

“Wintergreen is great at teaching kids that there’s more than one way to be an artist,” McHatten said. “I wanted the summer classes to reflect that idea.There’s so many ways for kids to express themselves, like photography and dance movement, instead of just with drawing and painting.”

Wintergreen’s Summer Arts classes have become an anticipated tradition for many local students, including 8-year-old Peia Grant-Boxton, who is enrolled in Art With Heart, STEAM, choreographed dance and photography.

“Shaye knows a lot about art and she’s a pretty good artist, too,” Grant-Boxton said.

McHatten also has gained two fans with Stephen Marcil, 7, and Sabine Wells-Puckett, 10. Marcil has gained a love of arts and crafts and photography through the classes.

“Photography is my favorite. I like taking pictures of things,” Marcil said. “Shaye is really nice and she does some fun crafts with us.”

Wells-Puckett, who has become a regular choreographed dance student, also praised McHatten’s teaching style.

“She’s super energetic and likes to have a good time with us,” Wells-Puckett said.

Wintergreen began the summer arts program in 2009 and offered general art classes for specific age groups in collaboration with the community center. This year, Hutchins noted, the center decided to have most of the classes be summer camps, that occur in consecutive weeks, to better accommodate families’ busy schedules and allow students to register for many classes.

As the program continues to grow, Hutchins said she is thankful for the unique vision that McHatten has brought and in awe at the positive impact her classes have had on local children.

“Shaye is wise beyond her years, yet she has this joyfulness for all children. She has a way of getting directly to each child’s personality and making everyone feel welcome,” Hutchins said.

Wintergreen still has room for children to register for Art With Heart, choreographed dance, musical storytelling and AR Girls. Folks interested in AR Girls should register at https://mmsa.org/projects/ar-girls/. To register for the other three classes, contact Wintergreen at (207) 762-3576, wintergreenarts@gmail.com or through their Facebook page.

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