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Holladay Journal

Three Holladay schools team up to keep fine arts program running

Mar 29, 2022 09:15PM ● By Heather Lawrence

Students in the Meet the Masters program at Spring Lane Elementary School show off their mixed media collages. (Jennifer Julian/Spring Lane Elementary)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

For 20 years, Holladay mom Jennifer Julian has been passionate about helping students learn about artists. After two years of pandemic setbacks and budget constraints, Julian is desperate to get funding so Spring Lane, Oakwood and Woodstock elementary schools can keep the Meet the Masters art program running. 

“This is the only fine arts program elementary students get. It’s a nationally-recognized curriculum that’s been around since 1985. We’ve been relying on parent volunteers to come in and teach as the artist, but we need to hire someone,” Julian said.

The program starts with an assembly, then students have classes and six projects focused on history, technique and well-known artists and works.

“We show them several pieces. We cover materials, whether that’s quilting, paint or oils. We talk about how they used light and shadow,” Julian said.

Spring Lane’s parent volunteers have been great, but like most parents they are stretched thin. 

“We have to train them on the curriculum, and almost every year there is turnover, or some classes just get missed. The kids deserve to have a dedicated art teacher, but that costs money,” Julian said.

Julian speaks from experience. Her five children range in age from 20 down to eight years old. Her older children have gone through the program; the youngest one is learning it at home with Julian.

“I was never great at the art projects, but I feel that Meet the Masters gave me knowledge that served me well later in life,” said Julian’s daughter Nikelle Julian, who is currently a student at BYU.

“In both history and humanities classes there will be times when we are talking about these art masters, and I already have background knowledge about these figures because of the program I had in elementary school,” Nikelle said.

Julian’s daughter Brynnly is a student at Cottonwood High. She didn’t realize what a great education she was getting in elementary school until she took high school art classes.

“I learned so much about famous artists and their methods in elementary school. There were great art projects and I really got into them as a beginning artist. Now in my art classes in high school, I see that Meet the Masters gave me a fantastic start,” Brynnly said.

Julian is researching several avenues to secure funding. She’s teamed up with parents at Oakwood and Woodstock elementary schools in the hopes that they can get a grant and hire a teacher who will travel among the three schools.

“Different schools have different ways of paying for this. Some parents fundraise or pay for the teacher. I’ve also met with Sheryl Gillian and Paul Fotheringham at Holladay City to see if the arts council can help,” Julian said.

Constraints put on schools by the pandemic also shone a light on the needs of the Meet the Masters program.

“During strict Covid precautions, we couldn’t have any parent volunteers in schools. We had to get creative, and only the PTA president could go in the classrooms. We found out the kids really loved the program. They missed it and needed it,” Julian said.

Julian thinks there is a misconception about how much money is in Holladay schools to pay for programs like Meet the Masters.

“The three schools we’re bringing together for this fundraiser each have a unique student body. They don’t just serve their neighborhood.   

“Woodstock has a Gifted and Talented program. Oakwood has a strong parent volunteer foundation. We at Spring Lane have the Chinese Dual Immersion program. Families are coming into our schools from all over the valley,” Julian said.

The result is a mixed school population.

“I know parents at our school who work two or three jobs, and they’re stretched thin. We have a lot of parents who are involved and very committed to their kids’ education. We also have a lot of students who are underserved. They all deserve this program,” Julian said.

The funds they’re looking for won’t cover art supplies or preparation time. That will be covered by donations and volunteers.

“The only thing the teacher will do is make a schedule and make sure they go to all the classes and teach the curriculum,” Julian said.

Julian is committed to making sure those classes happen for every student.

“I’m not the biggest artist, but I’m a believer in this program. I will fight to the end to see that this program stays alive,” Julian said. “It’s the only fine arts program these kids get, and they love it.”