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U.Va. Student Rallies Volunteers To Bring Arts To Local Schools

May 6, 2002-- On a recent Saturday afternoon, Charlottesville area students were dressed in their Sunday best as they proudly showed off artistic accomplishments to family members gathered in Newcomb Hall Ballroom at the University of Virginia. They sang and danced, showed off paintings and stories — all talents that had blossomed from seeds planted by one U.Va. student.

"The showcase is my favorite part of the program," said Sarah Rude, creator of Community Arts Volunteers. She created the program to provide an outlet for her own artistic energy and to provide lessons in the arts to youngsters who might not be able to afford them. Rude, who has played the viola for 11 years, also sings, writes poetry and fiction, and is learning to play the electric bass. She joins thousands of other students graduating from U.Va. on May 19.

"From an organizational standpoint, we spend a lot of time planning, and to see all the work we put in as a seed that has grown and developed into something we can show everyone makes me very proud," she said.

When Rude started the program, she quickly found there were many other U.Va. students willing to share their artistic talents. "They may be planning to go to medical school but play the piano, and this lets them have an outlet for their artistic talents," she said. "To see so many students who have the same combination of good will and artistic energy is heartening."

The program, now in its third semester, has grown to include about 50 volunteers who reach more than 100 pupils in group settings at Charlottesville’s Venable Elementary and Walker Upper Elementary schools. The U.Va. students engage the pupils in historic crafts, landscape painting, figure drawing, mask making and art history, and they give lessons in poetry, piano, violin, drama, dance and song.

CAVS is an integral part of the Walker after-school program, said Luvelle Brown, assistant principal. He praised Rude for her leadership role and ability to get volunteers to show up week after week. He emphasized that the U.Va. students are important role models for the youngsters.

Amy Huml, director of Venable’s after-school program, said CAVS expands the school’s ability to offer a range of art classes. "Having people with the ability to teach art, specifically, brings an element of formal training" to the children, she said.

Cathy Dowd, director of a city program that oversees summer and after-school enrichment programs in all the schools, said, "The trend is to get away from these sorts of things in the classroom because of the Standards of Learning requirements. This is exactly the thing I’d like to do in all the programs. It’s fun, but it’s learning."

Rude said she was touched when one of the students she taught said, "‘We’re lucky to have each other.’"

Rude, who is graduating with a double major in political and social thought and in the modern studies program in the English department, developed her love of helping others in high school in Dale City, where she tutored elementary students in a program she created. Knowing CAVS will be in good hands next year, she plans to continue helping youngsters and sharing her artistic talents in AmeriCorps and WritersCorps in Washington, D.C., before pursuing a Ph.D. in American studies.

Contact: Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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