Kids

Top left is Debra Wynn, top middle is PTA member Jen Broberg, and top right is Principal Angela Stevens. The students belong to Ms. Cori Cordingley’s first-grade class (Washington Elementary School). The class, along with every other class at the school, will get to take art classes throughout the year as part of the pilot art program.

One American Falls non-profit organization is making efforts to raise money to bring the arts to students across Southeast Idaho, and they’re already underway in bringing art classes to one Pocatello school in particular.

501©(3) organization Stars for the Arts is partnering with Washington Elementary School’s administration and PTA to develop a six-month pilot art program that includes guest artists teaching students a variety of subjects such as painting, graphic design, and theatre.

“I know that there is a lot of need out there,” says Debra Wynn, president and founder of Stars for the Arts. “The schools have had to cut a lot of stuff, but it feels like there are a lot harsh cuts to the arts, and it’s a lot for a community to try to support…I thought, here’s a way, hopefully we can help.”

Currently, the organization is holding a donation drive with a goal of $3,000 to help with the start-up costs of the art program and to provide art supplies for the students. In addition, to foster attention for the donation drive, Wynn’s husband will skydive over Labor Day weekend in Moab as part of “Jeff’s Sky Diving for Dollars for Stars for the Arts”.

Wynn says that all those who donate will be put into a raffle with the chance to win a prize package of around $400 from businesses within the area. The raffle will be held September 13 on Facebook Live on the Stars for the Arts Facebook page.

To round-off the art classes, the organization will hold an art show and silent auction in May where students can display their favorite art projects and if they would like to, put their display up for sale in the silent auction. Guest artists will also be given the opportunity to display and enter their work into the auction as well, and all proceeds will go towards next year’s art program.

The opportunity for 250 youth to have the chance to dabble in art and interact with those who view it is something Wynn prizes.

“This is something that is close to my heart and I think that we need it in these schools and they need our support,” Wynn says.

Stars for the Arts has also reached other students since it found its footing in 2016. In 2017, they were able to raise $1,000 to help send American Falls High School’s debate and speech team to nationals in Alabama, and in 2018 the organization was awarded $2,000 after being chosen by the leadership class at William Thomas Middle School as part of CenturyLink’s Middle School Philanthropy Program.

This year, they received $600 from CenturyLink’s program that will go towards their needs as a non-profit. Wynn, who says the organization still needs to develop a logo, decided to give the youth of American Falls the opportunity to get involved in both an artistic and beneficial way.

“I’m going to put it out to the local youth in American Falls to design something for a committee to pick,” Wynn says. “Whoever’s design gets picked will get a $200 scholarship for anything in the arts that they want to do.”

One of the organization’s long-term goals is to create an endowment for graduating seniors who want to go to college and get a degree in any of the arts, Wynn says.

“If they meet our criteria year to year, basically we would pay for their undergraduate degree,” she says. “That is a ten year goal that I would really like to be able to do as well as continue to support the kids coming up, because I think that art is so important…and it’s really important to get that exposure at a really young age.”

Stars for the Arts is a budding non-profit ran by Wynn and Lisa Lindsay. For anyone interested in donating, Wynn says to reach out to starsforthearts@gmail.com.