Woodland Middle School introduces new art and craft clubs to engage and inspire students both during and after school

Art is Jon Souders' favorite subject but without time to take it this year, he joined Art Club. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Art is Jon Souders’ favorite subject but without time to take it this year, he joined Art Club. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Despite just being introduced in the past few weeks, student response to the clubs has been overwhelmingly positive with both clubs at full enrollment

Woodland Middle School introduced two new afterschool clubs – Art Club and Craft Club – in November to provide ways for students to engage in lessons or activities they might not have the opportunity to take part in during the school day. 

The Art Club, run by Clarissa Rinehart, the art teacher at Woodland Middle School, offers students to self-direct their projects using the wide variety of media Rinehart uses for her lessons including colored pencils, markers, clay, watercolor paints, acrylic paints, and more. Club members can choose to create projects Rinehart suggests or pursue their own interests.

The Craft Club, run by Tammy Hall and Megan Orr who both work as paraeducators at the school, provides more directed sessions with Hall and Orr developing specific projects for club members to work on such as a recent seasonal one featuring small winter sleighs which students could decorate however they wished. In addition to projects involving traditional types of art like painting or drawing, the Craft Club also expands the types of projects to include holiday cookie decorating, tie-dying t-shirts, creating covers for journals, making scrapbooks, and many more.

Alexea Lansing, seen here helping create the hallway winter wonderland, particularly enjoys graphic design. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Alexea Lansing, seen here helping create the hallway winter wonderland, particularly enjoys graphic design. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Despite just being introduced in the past few weeks, student response to the clubs has been overwhelmingly positive with both clubs at full enrollment. In addition, the clubs attract a diverse group of students. “In addition to having students from all four of the grade levels we serve (fifth through eighth), we also have a significant number of students from our Diverse Support Program (DSP) taking part in the clubs,” said Rinehart. “Our school team really prioritized offering these special students the opportunity to join in since some cannot participate in more traditional extracurricular activities like athletics.”

Research shows that extracurricular activities like athletics or clubs can dramatically improve students’ performance by offering motivation to attend school and do well as receiving low grades can prevent students from participating in afterschool activities. Additionally, students can learn skills they might not have the opportunity to otherwise. “Not all of our students have the availability in their schedules to take art class during the school day, so these clubs give them the opportunity to take part,” said Rinehart. “Additionally, it’s nice to provide kids with a safe place after school where they can spend time actually getting to be kids.”

Hall and Orr started Craft Club so students could take time to find inspiration. “I wanted to offer students a place to fuel their imagination, be innovative and creative, to improve their talents, skills and self-identity without worrying about grades,” said Orr. “Afterschool programs like these can offer just that kind of outlet.” Hall strives to offer students a place to build relationships. “Students get to meet peers who share the same interests they do,” she said. “Since Covid, we weren’t able to provide group activities; it is so nice seeing all these kids wanting to be involved in something after school.”

Rinehart, a Woodland native, originally wanted to become an architect, but fell in love with art after taking classes in college. She taught at Kelso School District for eight years and waited to return to Woodland until she felt she had fully honed her skills. “I wanted to be at my best before coming home to teach in Woodland,” she said. “I had the most amazing teachers when I was a student here and wanted to make sure I could provide that same experience for my students.”

Orr has no formal background in art but has always found creative projects inspiring. “This is my first year running a club and didn’t know it was an option for paraeducators like myself, so I am glad I inquired about it,” she said. “After receiving so much attention from students, we decided to have the Art Club and Craft Club meet at the same time and it’s been great!”

Adison Bergstrom (left) and Olivia Mason (right) decorate a holiday sleigh in Craft Club. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Adison Bergstrom (left) and Olivia Mason (right) decorate a holiday sleigh in Craft Club. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

Hall loves crafts and woodworking projects, but also enjoys working with a wider number of students. “As a para, we work closely with certain students, but we miss out on building relationships with others,” she said. “I really wanted to expand my role as a para and build good relationships with all of our students while also being an adult they can trust and have fun with.”

Olivia Mason, an eighth grader, comes to the club each day to get a chance to paint and make crafts. “I do enjoy making crafts, but my favorite part is the end product,” she said. For Adison Bergrstrom, an eighth grade classmate of Mason’s, the clubs offer her to take part in her favorite artistic activity – painting. “I really enjoy painting with acrylic paints, but I like all kinds of paint so it’s cool to get a chance to use several different kinds in the club,” she said. 

Alexea Lansing, a sixth grader, prefers graphic design to paint. “I joined the club after Ms. Rinehart suggested it when I was in her art class,” she said. “For me, I really like graphic design because I enjoy the freedom that comes with being able to create whatever you want both on the computer and in real life.”

John Souders, an eighth grader, took an art class last year and since he enjoyed it so much but doesn’t have the time to take another class this year, he came to the after school club. “I really enjoy painting, working with clay, and drawing,” he said. “I really enjoy the process of creating my art as much as I enjoy the end product; art is my favorite subject.”

Woodland Middle School introduced Art and Craft Clubs this fall to encourage and inspire students. Photo courtesy Woodland School District
Woodland Middle School introduced Art and Craft Clubs this fall to encourage and inspire students. Photo courtesy Woodland School District

The Craft Club receives a lot of support from the Woodland community. “We have received generous donations of supplies from community members to help us come up with projects,” said Orr. “We appreciate our community so much – they always go above and beyond when it comes to supporting their schools.”

To learn more about the Art and Craft Clubs including how to donate supplies or other needs, you can reach out to Clarissa Rinehart via email at rineharc@woodlandschools.org, Tammy Hall at hallt@woodlandschools.org, or Megan Orr at orrm@woodlandschools.org.

Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community by visiting the dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd

Information provided by Woodland School District.


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