Students at Jefferson Elementary School in Belleville spend Thursday afternoons expressing themselves through various forms of art as members of the school's art clubs.
"It gives me a chance to actually know what art is really about," said sixth-grader Camryn Collins-Vaugh.
This school year, art teacher Sarah Largent ran three different art clubs -- fashion, photography and jewelry. The art clubs are open to fourth through sixth graders at Jefferson.
"A lot of the students will learn about process and technique in art class, but don't explore beyond that," Largent said. "The art clubs allow our students to explore different facets of art."
"It pretty much lets you use your imagination and let it go wherever you want to," said fifth-grader Mackinzee Hickman of the art clubs.
"It's just a lot of fun," said fourth-grader Emmalaine Barney. "You can make stuff and take pictures of stuff you like."
For the first time this year, Largent said the photography club students took digital pictures using an array of electronic devices from cell phones to iPads to portable video game systems. The jewelry club makes jewelry which is then sold for $5 each to raise money for the art clubs.
Unfortunately, Largent said the school may start charging a $5 per student fee to participate in the art clubs next school year.
"I'm hoping we don't have to go to that," said Largent, who's been running the art clubs for the last five years. "We've always offered the clubs for free."
The art clubs receive no funding from Belleville School District 118 and rely on donations of supplies and monetary funds from the community.
Members of the fashion club designed T-shirts this year using a relatively new technique Largent found on the Internet. The students made designs on the shirt using different colored Sharpie markers and then dripped rubbing alcohol on the designs to cause the colors to bleed.
"You can show everybody what you are all about" when you design a shirt, said fifth-grader Faith Turner.
A sentiment echoed by fourth-grader Kate Springer. "You can express yourself in your shirt," she said. "You can do whatever you want to do."
Sixth-grader Miyah Eiland said she enjoys getting to hang out with her friends while designing shirts in the fashion club.
Fourth-grader Gabriella Bess said she likes being involved in the fashion club and getting to meet new people.
The fashion club members will show off their creations during the school talent show at 6:30 p.m. May 9. Principal Jamerson McCloskey is also expected to make a special appearance during the runway show in a T-shirt designed by members of the club. The talent show is open to the public.
Individuals interested in making a donation to the art clubs can contact Largent at Jefferson School at 233-3798.
Largent said the jewelry club is always in need of old broken jewelry and loose beads, and next year, the fashion club will be using bleach pens. In addition, she said financial funds will be used to print pictures for photography club students and to buy picture frames for the student art gallery.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.