Boonville, NY art center connects education, art

Fifteen-year-old Hannah Chase never knew the beauty of her surroundings could be captured forever.

That was until she became immersed in the STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) program at Dodge Pratt Art and Community Center in Boonville where she learned the power of photography.

Now, the Boonville teen sees a future in art. Thanks to the STEAM program, she has learned how art, science, technology, engineering and math can work together. Art makes learning the rest more interesting, she said.

“I think there would be a lot less creativity without this program – creativity, art, literature hasn’t been pronounced a lot in schools,” Hannah said. “Now, there is nothing but factual information as the focus, and that’s not all you need. If you’re not allowing kids creativity how will they be creative in life? Being creative and eccentric is important to me, and it’s something I need.”

The topics taught directly link to the core programs in the students’ curriculum and are taught by retired educators and volunteers after school, said Dodge Pratt Art and Community Center Executive Director JoAnn Ballard.

“When they added art to STEM last year, we knew we could do this and it would have big impact on the children in our community,” Ballard said.

Beyond her newfound love of art and photography, Hannah has been a part of programs where students have learned and captured the history of their community through community walks with their cameras, learned about birds and their behaviors by creating a habitat for them to live in, learned every discipline of pottery and even have had lessons on engineering and nanotechnology.

A grant from The Foundation funded the computer, cameras and software needed to run the program. The computers also have been used in other programs where Dodge Pratt has been able to produce revenue.