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Alma d’arte students begin new year revisiting arts tradition

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Students at Alma d’arte Charter High School (Alma) began the new year by revisiting an arts tradition started when the school opened in 2004, the school said in a news release.

The entire student body and staff participated in Alma’s Enrichment Days, Jan. 3-6, at the school, 402 W. Court Ave. Enrichment Days “are a multi-layered series of workshops, demonstrations, hands on make-and-take sessions and tours,” the news release said.

“The activities highlighted the four art forms that are the foundation for the school’s arts integration curriculum learning, which incorporates math, science, language arts with the performing, visual, literary and culinary arts,” the school said.

The week was designed by Alma Culinary Educator and Director Roanna St. Clair and Integration Specialist, Community Liaison and visual artist Stephanie Preciado-Shelton in partnership with number of community arts organizations, businesses, artists, parents, City of Las Cruces officials and residents.

“When the school opened in 2004, we didn’t have the budget to hire artists that represented our

four art forms full time, so we created what we called Enrichment Days,” St. Clair said. “Several days throughout the year, we invited community and professional artists to offer workshops, demonstrations and performances in a variety of art forms and genres to allow the students to experience numerous arts professions and learning. Students would rotate to different activities and get the opportunity to work with several artists in a number of art forms, said St. Clair, who has been an Alma educator since the school opened.

“Our Enrichment Days give us the opportunity to demonstrate to our students the extension of arts integration by introducing math, science and language arts learning activities that are incorporated into community businesses, professionals and organizations,” Preciado said. “We have designed a week of integrated learning by partnering with city elected officials and department heads, creative economy businesses and artists, chefs and restaurants, community and New Mexico State University educators, Main Street businesses and Mesquite Street Historic Neighborhood leaders and residents,” Preciado said.

This year’s Enrichment Days included workshops on mural design with Celina Corral; legacy rock garden design and crochet with parents; a culinary demonstration of sweet and savory crepes as well as career and cooking skills sessions with Shamrock Foods Corporate Chef Rodney Estrada; Caporiera with Jando; and team building using theatre techniques with NMSU instructor and local actor, director and playwright Monika Mojica. A field trip to the New Mexico Science Museum in Alamogordo was part of the agenda; along with a visit to downtown Las Cruces museums, a tour of Las Cruces City Hall that included visits with Mayor Pro Tempore Kasandra Gandara and City Councilor Becky Corran, a tour of Rio Grande Theatre, lunch at Broken Spoke and visits to creative economy businesses MEW, Sage & Spices, The Kitchen and COAS Books and the nonprofit makerspace Cruces Creatives.

To put Enrichment Days together, St. Clair and Preciado worked with Anthony, New Mexico Board of Trustees member Gabriel Holguin, who is an Alma alumnus and member of the Alma Governance Council; City of Las Cruces Historic Preservation Commissioner David Chavez; business owner and lobbyist Gordon Buck; and Alma founder and Las Cruces artist and community activist Irene Oliver Lewis,

Alma Enrichment Days has received funding from Community Share and Cruces Creatives, Shamrock Foods, Las Muchachas Creativity Studio, The Kitchen; MEW; Sage Spices, Gordon Buck, David Chavez, Sol Cannabis, Mesquite Street residents and community members, the news release said.

Visit www.almadarte.org.