High school offers wide variety of options for exploring art

Art is one of many passions that students may have and the art department at the high school is an opportunity not to miss. 

Lisa Klenske, art teacher at the high school, said she believes that art in the high school is important for students because of the many skills it teaches them, as well as time management, planning skills, and organization skills. She said art teaches students about good decision making. “Even fundamental skills like reading a ruler or tape measure, figuring out an angle or which glue will work best with certain materials, etc,” Klenske said. 

These skills that are learned in the classroom will help students in the real world and carry on into life. “Most important, is that art classes teach us that most of the time there is no single right answer. There are good, better and best answers (designs or solutions) to most projects (challenges or problems) we encounter in life.”

Klenske has gone through many different jobs throughout her life involving art, but being a graphic designer was depriving her of the one thing she loved most. “After about 15 years, I was missing the hands-on art, and I wanted to change my schedule to be more in line with my sons’ schedules, so I returned to college and got my art teaching degree,” Klenske said. 

Hands-on learning and the students’ creativity at the high school is what motivates Klenske to keep teaching. “High school students keep me young,” Klenske said. “Seriously though, high school students help me keep my soul young and my own creativity fresh.”

Abby Brodhead (’23), leader of the art club at the high school, said she believes that art is unique in the way that creativity can be expressed. “It’s that you can create whatever you want and explore so many different mediums of art. Everything about art to me is so much fun and super unique,” Brodhead said. 

She said that the classes taught here are important and have had an amazing impact on her. “I really like the creative freedom that you get with the classes,” Brodhead said. “It’s super fun to come up with loads of fun projects and choose your favorite.”

With little funding, teachers like Klenske always find a way to still pursue the curriculum that they are required to teach. “It’s tough. Most of our materials have at least doubled since I started working here 16 years ago. We have even added new courses without any additional money added to the budget. It’s sad that visual arts are left out of funding when there appears to be plenty for other departments,” Klenske said. “We just haven’t had our budget raised in about 20 years.”

But even with this challenge, the classes that Klenske teaches, which include Creative Digital Photography I & II, Graphic Design, Jewelry/Crafts I & II, Design I & II, and Basic Integrated Art, she has overcome the challenge of the budget. “So far I have acquired over $32,000 in grants for the CFHS art department to buy such things as our first computer lab and 9-color inkjet printer, backdrops and studio lights for our photography classes and a class set of 3-D pens for design classes,” Klenske said. 

While the photography classes focus on taking and retouching photos, other big projects for the classes include making CDs and illustrations for Graphic Design, making keyfobs, dog tags and rings for Jewelry/Crafts I & II, and 2D and 3D material for Design I & II. 

The possibilities are almost endless for students involved in art at the high school, and the variety of classes are a creative outlet for students to express themselves. Even if students think that art may not be for them because of the talent level they hold themselves at, Klenske reminds students that art is much less about skill level. “We have so many different types of art classes going on, you are sure to find one that fits you. Besides, talent is only a small portion of success in any area.”

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