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Cool Schools: Mishawaka Art Department takes modern approach to get kids career ready

Cool Schools: Mishawaka Art Department takes modern approach to get kids career ready

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- The Mishawaka High School Art Department brought in more gold awards than any other school in a regional competition this week, highlighting recent upgrades to the program.

“The art department has really grown,” said Mishawaka High School Fine Arts Department Chair Ryan Sergeant. “It’s a really good thing that’s happening here at Mishawaka.”

He’s taking his art class to the next level with computer work stations, Photoshop and digital sculpting.

“I’m able to incorporate everything that’s modern as far as software and the hardware involved with it,” said Sergeant.

That includes tablets, digital drawing and digital painting. It’s all helping students branch out in multiple skillsets.

 “There’s so many mediums I’ve used that I didn’t know existed,” said Areana Steinke, a senior at Mishawaka High School. She just moved to the school a few years ago and says the tools available far exceed her previous school’s art department. “I didn’t know prisma colored pencils existed or micron pens. I’ve really gotten to develop and utilize my skills here.”

New technology added to the classroom this year includes 3D printers. Mishawaka Senior Salome Walker is taking full advantage of that new software.

 “When you’re going through the software, it’s just like using clay but on the computer,” said Walker. “It’s helped me because there are a lot of new things that we can use. “You can just be you in art. You don’t have to worry about fitting in anywhere.”

The digital studio is thanks to support from the Mishawaka Education Foundation, but the awards are thanks to hard work.

“People have come up to congratulate me but really these kids just make us look good,” said Sergeant. “We couldn’t do anything or have any sort of achievement without the hard work of these students.”

More than 40 students were honored Sunday in the 2019 Scholastic Art Awards.

 “I feel a lot more confident, like hey I can actually do this, I can make it in that competition,” said Faythe Martin, a senior at Mishawaka High School.  

Several students are already planning for a career in the arts.

“With this art program, that helped me realize that I really want to pursue art and become a teacher,” said Hannah Tiller, a senior in the program.

As for the department’s upgrades and improvements, those aren’t stopping anytime soon.

“We’re always trying to edge something else out here,” said Sergeant. “Anything we can do to get our kids the next thing and more and bigger and better.”

Several of the award-winning art pieces are on display at the Century Center. The pieces will stay up through the month of February.

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