PITTSGROVE TWP. — For fourth-grade student Leon Sobczak, art provides him will an outlet to express his feelings and develop creativity.
Leon, 9, was one of more than 100 students to have personal artwork hanging in an exhibit at the Noyes Museum, located in Galloway Township.
“It makes me happy — you’re free and can do whatever you want to make,” the fourth-grader said.
Between the visual arts program and newly developed music program, the arts in Pittsgrove School District are flourishing.
For the third consecutive year, Pittsgrove was featured in the Noyes Museum, displaying artwork from students from Elmer and Olivet Elementary schools, Pittsgrove Township Middle School, Arthur P. Schalick High School, and the high school art academy.
The different artistic programs within the district provide students with the opportunity to grow outside of the classroom.
The Noyes Museum sends out an annual request for student artwork to be displayed in the “Young at Art” exhibition and hundreds of requests are received from South Jersey Schools, according to Director of Curriculum and Instruction Yvette DuBois.
Only one school district is displayed per month and for the month of November, Pittsgrove students received that honor.
“It felt good that my art was in a museum,” third-grade student Mikayla Mathews, 8, said.
Mikayla described her art project as different trees drawn in chalk on paper.
The Visual Art Program is fully supported and facilitated by the Pittsgrove School District.
“It is our goal as educators and working artists to provide our students to display their works outside of our school-based community, helping to make their visual language a universal language,” Lorraine Hill, PTMS art teacher and district arts liaison, said.
Although facilitated by the district, Pittsgrove does work collaboratively among all the arts programs for a comprehensive approach to the arts, according to DuBois.
An opening reception was held last Sunday at the Noyes Museum for parents, students, and staff.
“We thank our staff for making this opportunity possible for our students and their families,” DuBois said.
Not only is the visual arts thriving in the district, but a new and improved music program also serves as an outlet for creative students.
The instrumental music program and band in grades 3 to 8 is partnered with Appel Farm, as well as the high school arts academy with Appel Farm and Salem County Vocational Technical School.
Pittsgrove Township recently contracted with Appel Farm, providing a part-time music instructor to come into the schools and teach music to the students.
Since the changes in the music program, 42 elementary-age students are enrolled in the music program.
Thanks to the new music program, students Jack Wheaton, 10, and Sarah Little, 9, are learning to play an instrument for the first time.
“I was thinking about it and I wanted to learn something new — I heard about this music program and thought the saxophone would be good,” Sarah said.
Sarah added that she saw a 12-year-old playing the saxophone on the internet and was inspired.
For Jack, his interest grew from jazz music from the ’60s and ’70s.
“I never performed before — it’s hard to perform,” Jack said.
Both Sarah and Jack said they hope to defeat their stage freight through practicing in the program.
“I would love to continue to build the program after this year and create more performance opportunities for students,” part-time music instructor from Appel Farm Richard Wade said.
Students in the music program are working toward their first concert performance which will be at some time in the spring.