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Stillaguamish Valley School offers combined art classrooms

ARLINGTON - Toward the end of the school day, Bobbi Foltz's classroom looked like a rainbow had exploded.

An assortment of colored pencils, crayons, pastels and paint brushes littered the students' desks in Foltz's portable at Stillaguamish Valley School as children as young as 6 and as old as 11 huddled around books and sketching on notepads.

"At the end of the day, sometimes the room is a bit of a mess," Foltz joked on a recent April afternoon as the elementary-school aged children filed out of her room.

Foltz's classroom experience is fairly unique among schools. The art instructor teaches multiple grades of students at the same time her classes contain kindergarten through fifth-graders, sixth- through eighth-graders and ninth- through 12th-graders an experience that can be beneficial to younger and older students.

"The kids seem to be more independent and have more self-initiative because of it," said Janet Scarth, whose daughter Hannah attends Stillaguamish Valley School.

Located near Eagle Creek Elementary and Post Middle schools, Stillaguamish Valley offers parents opting to home-school their children a variety of classes and resources, including art, math and science instruction.

For Foltz, the learning environment also gives elementary-school aged children access to a full-time art instructor before they reach high school, which she said is becoming increasingly rare.

"Very few schools have an art specialist anymore," Foltz said. "Because we have smaller classrooms, we're able to have the kids do more projects to get them ready for high school when they get the chance."

Art students seem to be embracing Foltz's teaching style.

Stillaguamish Valley eighth-grader Elizabeth Bennett said that she never considered herself much of an artist before she enrolled in Foltz's class last school year.

Bennett spends a lot of time in Foltz's classroom volunteering with younger students and working on art projects.

"Before, I would just do doodles," Bennett said. "This year, I'm using oil, pastels and working on real canvases."

Bennett was among two Stillaguamish Valley students to receive a gold key award for her entry into the Arts Council of Snohomish County's Scholastic Art Awards, which were handed out in February.

Her acrylic painting, titled "Controversy," took her about five hours to complete.

"It can be looked at in a lot of different ways," Bennett said.

Ninth-grader Angela Clark also won a gold key for her painting titled "The Beginning and End of Life."

"It took me like 17 hours to do," Clark said. "It's got a little bit of everything in it."

A number of Foltz's students also took part in the Lions Clubs International Peace Post contest last fall.

Hannah Scarth, a seventh-grader who has been enrolled at Stillaguamish Valley for the past three years, entered her water color in the contest.

She said that interacting with the younger students has been a nice experience.

"The younger kids reflect on what the older kids are working on," Scarth said. "It's good because we can be their role models."

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