Program introduces youth to the arts

WARREN – For 20 Fridays during the school year, students from different Trumbull County schools are getting special insights into the various fine and performing arts.

The Arts / EXCEL program continues this year each Friday through March 28 at the YWCA of Warren.

Erin McConnell, gifted coordinator, said the program is geared to Trumbull County students in grades 5 to 9. The cooperative Arts / Excel program began in 1991 by the Trumbull County Educational Service Center to provides students with an opportunity to develop their academic and artistic talents in the disciplines of art, dance, drama, vocal and instrumental music, McConnell said.

Instructors encourage creativity and openness of expression while stressing process development, self-assessment and evaluation.

Students spend three hours each Friday in their selected area of study. They also receive one hour of weekly instruction in a minor area of study. A performance assembly is also held each week.

The Arts / Excel faculty consists of artists practicing in their field of expertise.

The program met at different locations, including Lordstown Elementary School and the former Mount Carmel School in Niles, before coming to the YWCA.

McConnell said the different classes work together on a particular theme such as tribal dance, tribal music and totem poles as well as other related pieces.

“It’s an interdiscipline among the different arts,” she said.

Angie Andrella, dance instructor, said her students experience a variety of dance styles such as jazz and ballet while also learning gymnastics and acrobatics.

Dance student Brittany Arcuri of Lakeview said she feels the class is great way to learn new steps and meet new people who enjoy dancing.

Dakota Hrabowy of Liberty said he enjoys gymnastics and improving his dancing skills.

Art students are learning about the history of art from different time periods and cultures.

“We see what the kids like and experiment with the different art styles,” McConnell said.

Will Eisen, 13, of Howland, said he enjoys the opportunity to be creative and have fun while meeting new people.

Patricia Fagan, drama teacher, said students learn about improvisational skits in the first level of drama and also the history of theatre, including how drama was used to communicate and explain.

McConnell said the children in the drama programs come up with ideas to have a live performance each week along with music and dance. One recent skit borrowed from a classic television show, and the students had to act like the heroic collie Lassie trying to communicate that her master Timmy was stuck in a well.