Area students will once again have a fun after-school learning environment thanks to the Richmond Area Arts Council's Fun with the Arts program.

Former Madison County educator Lee Anne Browder serves as the program coordinator for FWTA.

The program has been ongoing for more than 20 years, partnering with Madison County Schools, and welcomes all kids to have fun but also to learn something new. Fun with the Arts offers a variety of classes, from guitar and ukulele, to crafty cuisine and movement express. The program is for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade.

New this year, Browder said, was the addition of Berea Community School students into the mix.

Boonesborough Elementary along with Shannon Johnson Elementary and Glenn Marshall serve as the three main hub schools. White Hall Elementary used to serve as a hub as well, but Browder noted they no longer are utilizing the location. Students who were attending the FWTA program at White Hall will get to see some new scenery as they will be transported to Glenn Marshall.

Including their own students at Shannon Johnson, the hub school also accepts students from Kingston and Silver Creek. Glenn Marshall, including their own students, accepts Waco, Kit Carson, Daniel Boone, and Madison Kindergarten Academy. Boonesborough only accepts its own students due to its distance in the county.

Although students from St. Mark, Model or those who are homeschooled, are encouraged to enroll, they are responsible for their own transportation.

Another new aspect of FWTA includes a change-up of the programs offered. In previous years, FWTA offered Art Adventure and Creative Movement with Music and Games. Instead, students can take a photography class, where students explore the beginning skills of photography. In the class, students will use basic digital devices to take photos and create finished images.

Another new class students can take is Night at the Museum. In this class, students will take a virtual tour through time and recreate masterpieces that reflect the artistic techniques of famous artists, such as van Gogh, Picasso or Warhol.

"We had the old programs for a while so we wanted to try to come up with some new stuff," Browder said. "We wanted to offer new, fresh choices, things we thought that they’d be interested in."

Each class can have anywhere from four to 12 students and serves to be more than just an after-school daycare.

"It give students the opportunity to experience the arts, maybe a little more than they get to school," Browder said. "They work with different areas of art. They dance, have art adventures, do pottery. It helps their brains develop. A student taking guitar will have a more developed brain than a child that doesn't."

Students participating in the after-school program receive a snack and are supervised while they do their homework until 3:30 p.m. Then the real fun begins when classes start and go until pick up at 5. Schedules vary by school and day and programs are taught by certified teachers or experts in the field of study, like Kevin Case, who serves as the ukulele instructor.

The classes serve more than just a place for kids to go while parents work. Students learn valuable skills and it lets parents know their kids are engaged in the learning, Browder said. Even classes like drawing, something students might be learning in art class, allows for more one on one time, too.

For a full description of classes, visit https://artsinrichmond.org/fwta/classes. For more information about enrollment, scholarships or classes, contact Browder by calling at (859) 624-4242. Those wishing to register can do so by visiting https://artsinrichmond.org/fwta/registration.

Follow Kaitlyn Brooks on Twitter @kaitlynsbrooks.

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