March into art

Youth Arts Month kicks off in Washougal

timestamp icon
category icon Life
Columbia River Gorge Elementary School students Justice LaFrance (left) and Jackson Joyce (right) work on an art project at school. (Photo by Rene Carroll courtesy of Washougal School District)

Shirley Bishop wasn’t exposed to a lot of art when she was growing up. It wasn’t until high school that Bishop, more of an athlete type, took a stained glass class, which helped her discover her creative nature.

Today, Bishop is an established glass fusion artist who sells her artwork and teaches classes at her Washougal-based Studio 13 Glass Art studio.

Bishop is one of several area artists participating in Washougal Youth Arts Month, an effort by the Washougal School District and Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance (WACA), in partnership with Washougal Community Education, Washougal Community Library, Washougal Schools Foundation and local artists, that gives students opportunities to make and display art through a variety of events and activities throughout the month of March.

“What I love about (children) is they’re all creative in their own different ways,” Bishop said. “I just had a couple little girls (for a class last month), and I was amazed at how creative they were with the colors and the glass inks and the glass paints. Given the right direction, they can be surprisingly talented.”

Bishop will instruct a weekend glass fusion class for youth this month, with artwork displayed at Washougal Coffee Company March 30 to April 6,


Following are a few events being offered as a part of the Washougal Youth Arts Month. A full list of classes and free events can be found at

School district concerts:

All concerts begin at 7 p.m., and are free for the community.

Thursday, March 14: The Jemtegaard Middle School (JMS) symphonic band and wind ensemble will perform at Washougal High School (WHS), 1201 39th St.

Thursday, March 21: The Washougal High concert band will perform at WHS, 1201 39th St.

Tuesday, March 26: The Canyon Creek Middle School (CCMS) and Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School bands will perform at CCMS, 9731 Washougal River Road

Thursday, March 28: A “future Husky concert” featuring bands from Jemtegaard Middle School as well as from Gause, Hathaway and Columbia River Gorge elementary schools will perform at JMS, 35300 S.E. Evergreen Hwy.

Public art photography:

The Washougal Arts and Culture Alliance (WACA) has invited Washougal students to submit photos of Washougal’s public art. Submissions are being accepted through Friday, March 22.

Students may send up to three images — along with their name, grade, school and completed photo release with parental authorization — to Forms are available at schools and at WACA will select several photos to display on the group’s website and Facebook site.

Crafternoon at Washougal library:

The Washougal Community Library will host free, self-guided crafting sessions for students and their accompanying adult, from 2 to 4 p.m., on Tuesdays, March 19 and March 26, at the library, 1661 “C” St.

Youth recital and hands-on music:

Jeffree White, of Washougal School of Music, along with Chuck Carpenter and other local music teachers, will host a free afternoon youth music recital from 2:30 to 4 p.m., Saturday, March 23, at the Washougal Community Center, 1681 “C” St.

Following the recital, the music teachers will host a free, hands-on instrument exploration and mini-lessons with an adult bluegrass jam and musician’s social afterward. The hands-on music and mini-lessons will be held from 4 to 6 p.m.

“The whole idea is I want to provide basics for kids who need basics, the kids who maybe need a little bit more guidance,” she said. “But then I want to offer them some customization, give them the tools to be more creative and encourage them to be more creative and sign their work — and then show off their work, display it in a public place.”

A national program established in 1961 by the Council for Art Education and National Art Education Association, the Youth Arts Month was meant to be a way of recognizing art education’s impact on the community. Throughout March, Washougal students are being exposed to a multitude of arts, including culinary, drama, singing, dancing, photography, rock painting, face painting, pottery, crafts and chalk art. A variety of concerts featuring local youth musicians are also scheduled throughout the rest of the month. A full list of classes and free events can be found at

“There’s so many talented people who live here, and it’s great (for the students to) have places to showcase their talents,” said Alice Yang, who teaches art at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School. “This is a great way to awaken the arts culture in Washougal, get everyone to meet each other and network and connect and give each other resources.”

The Washougal elementary schools are offering dedicated arts classes for the first time this school year, and Yang said the impact of those classes has been immediate.

“Often we see students who don’t normally excel in regular academics, and when they come to us, they discover that they’re talented at this, and that gives them excitement to come to school,” she said. “It helps them to have something they’re good at, to contribute to their peers. I’ve heard so many of those types of stories among all of the art teachers here, about certain students who have a difficult time in the regular classroom but come to art and it’s their time to shine.”

Yang said partnering with established artists is another benefit of the Youth Arts Month.

“This is a great opportunity to have local artists bring their processes to students and let them know that art can be a career, and something that can help them later in life,” Yang said. “Students can express themselves and have different avenues to channel their creativity.”

The program will culminate with the Washougal Youth Arts Month Gallery, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 27 through Friday, March 29, and from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 30, at Washougal Town Square.

The Washougal Community Library has also partnered with the school district and WACA for the Youth Arts Month, presenting a free concert by acclaimed folk/Americana musician and entertainer Dennis Warner on March 5, and hosting several other arts activities throughout the month.

“Part of our mission is to support student success while also building community,” said library manager Rachael Ries. “Both of those (objectives) can be met by participating in Washougal Youth Arts Month. To me, this is a no-brainer for us. We have a lot of talented people here in the area, and I think the main thing is just providing a venue for them.”

On Feb. 25, Washougal mayor Molly Colston signed a proclamation declaring March Youth Arts Month in Washougal. The next day, the Washougal School District (WSD) board of directors issued a resolution supporting the program.

“Arts are in my background,” said WSD Superintendent Mary Templeton, who studied performance arts at the University of Oregon. “I come from a family of artists. I use what I learned in the arts every day, and I truly value (those experiences). I have a passion for the arts, and also a responsibility to make sure to prepare students for whatever comes next. That’s not just academics, not just athletics, not just arts — it’s all three.”

Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School students Preston Tolbert (left) and Juliet Collins (right) create artwork in class.
Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School students Preston Tolbert (left) and Juliet Collins (right) create artwork in class. (Photo by Rene Carroll courtesy of Washougal School District) Photo