The El Paso County Commissioners are being recognized by ABE both for designating April 2006 as Student Art Appreciation Month and for opening their boardroom to rotating displays of student art from District 11 Schools.
In addition, they’ve welcomed the student artists to their meetings to discuss their work and the place that art has in their lives and studies.
Each participating student has been presented with a copy of the Student Art Appreciation Resolution, learning that their work and expressions are highly valued by the community.
Commissioner Jim Bensberg said he is delighted by successful collaboration, and generously gives his colleague Sallie Clark much of the credit for creating the partnership.
Bensberg first proposed a collaboration more than three years ago, but said it went nowhere.
“It took Sallie Clark to get it done,” he said. “She has a real gift for bringing people together to benefit the community. I’ve been impressed and delighted by the talent that so many of these artists display. It really brightens up our boardroom, and there are a lot of other benefits as well.”
One of those benefits, according to Bensberg, is exposing students to the daily workings of county government.
Clark said she believes that the program has been enormously beneficial for all concerned.
“I had really wanted to focus on an aspect of our strategic plan, by creating outreach programs to bring students into government,” she said. “Art just seemed like the right vehicle, and we began with District 11. It’s a way of rewarding kids for what they do, and of introducing them to government — because these kids will one day sit where we sit, and lead the community.”
Clark said there also are some unexpected benefits.
“One of the Palmer students got up at the meeting and told us that this program had inspired him to paint on canvas, rather than do graffiti on walls,” she said. “Sheriff (Terry) Maketa was there, and he thought that was great.”