The Saratoga Sun -

Art classes in K-12 contributed to ‘98 valedictorian’s success



I am writing to you after recently learning of potential plans to cut the arts program at Encampment School from a full K-12 program down to half its current size, thus eliminating the elementary portion of the program. I urge them not to do this! Please allow me to give background on the merits of, not only this program, but what it has the potential to achieve for many students, both current and those students yet to come.

Born in Carbon County, I spent the first 18 years of my life in Encampment. I was fortunate enough to receive a hands-on art education as a kindergarten student all the way through to my senior year of high school. These classes highly contributed to my academic success at Encampment K-12 and far beyond.

Arts education in those early developmental years were critical, as they helped me form fine motor skills, abilities to truly see the world around me, ways of expressing my thoughts and emotions, and also skills that contributed to my overall academic learning. It is vital to keep the art program at the elementary level.

I am proof that this holistic approach to learning and thinking helped me with lifelong successes. I was valedictorian in 1998, received my baccalaureate degree in 2003 from the University of Wyoming and a Master of Fine Arts in 2011 from Bowling Green State University. While in graduate school, I was offered the position of director at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts. A new artist residency program built from vision to thriving reality in just a few short months. Most recently I have accepted a job as the Arts Education Specialist at the Wyoming Arts Council.

It was a great honor for me to return to the Platte Valley and further extend the arts of the area through the programs at Brush Creek. That organization now continues to grow and thrive, bringing artists, writers and musicians from around the globe to be nurtured by the area’s people and landscape. The artist-residents, in turn, help contribute to the local economy of the Platte Valley by spending their tourist dollars at local shops and restaurants and provide future contributions in all fields of arts on a national and international level.

To sum up, I would not have gotten to where I am today without arts education at a young age, and with continuity. By maintaining the arts education program at Encampment School as a K-12 program, you are ensuring the future success for many students, and not just those pursuing the arts!

As citizens of the Platte Valley, I urge you to get involved in the political process and education system by expressing your voice. While I am unable to attend the school board meeting on the 18th, I am writing two letters to be read during the meeting and included in the minutes. If you can, please go to the School Board meeting and help save elementary arts education in Encampment.

Most sincerely,

Katie Christensen

Encampment K-12 Alumna



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