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Art teacher Mimi Seykora worked with 8th grader AJ Mogler last Friday to prepare for the class's next project - working with clay. Lakes Area Charter School in Osakis is offering an art class for the first time this year. Amy Chaffins | Echo Press

Life lessons through art

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New art class offered at Lakes Area Charter School

On canvas, in clay, with markers, mixed media and wire, students at Lakes Area Charter School (LACS) in Osakis now have the opportunity to express themselves artistically.

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In October, LACS added an art class to the school's offerings.

MEET THE TEACHER

Mimi Seykora of Alexandria is the new art teacher at LACS. As a life-long artist, she brings experience in a variety of medium and fresh energy to work with students in grades 7 through 12.

"I've always loved art - that's my love, that's what I love doing," she said. "I can't help but teach. It just comes very natural to me. I'm not a perfect teacher, but it's just very easy for me to teach."

Seykora started her teaching career in the 1980s working as an elementary art teacher, but she changed jobs and for the last 26 years, she has worked in newspaper advertising sales.

"Over the last couple years, I've been looking for some avenue to do more art," Seykora said. "I needed to do something more creative with more art involved. It's one of those things where you get to a certain point where you go, 'OK, I've worked really hard in this direction, but there are other things I want to do.' I want to stage myself for the second half of my life."

ART LESSONS, LIFE LESSONS

Since Seykora joined the staff, students have worked in printmaking, wire art, 3D drawing and woodwork.

Some students are currently using a wood burning technique to make signs for the school's classrooms.

Next quarter brings clay work. Seykora said most of the students are excited to give it a try.

"The thing that is most challenging is that there are all levels [of students]. You just adapt," Seykora said. "I don't feel like I can say, 'You can't do that' [to a student]. That's not what learning is about."

Caitlyn Jenson, 10th grade, said she really likes art class. "I love how I can express myself. I love to draw and I just go with it. Right now we're working on a project where we pick a nickname and draw stuff that describes you... the stuff that describes me is music, fun designs, sunshine, peace - a whole bunch of random things. [Mimi] is a really good teacher."

Josie Karasch, 8th grade, said, "I like [the class]. I think it's something we all look forward to."

Even if students aren't big fans of art class, Seykora said she at least hopes students walk away knowing they can be successful.

"That's probably the most important thing," she said. "With these kids it's important that they leave this school knowing they can do this. One little success leads to many, many other successes."

When asked what she wants the Osakis community to know about the new class, she said, "Having art opens up a whole new avenue for learning and for success. There are a lot of really good kids here. Just because there are a couple bad apples doesn't mean the whole bowl is spoiled."

Seykora is also asking the community to help the students continue to succeed by donating art materials - especially rusty stuff.

She needs small, rusted metal items for students to work on a rust-dying project in the spring. Things like pliers, nails, washers - anything small would be appreciated, she said.

Plus, Seykora added, "If anybody has yarn or old ties or any sort of art supplies at all they'd like to donate, that would be awesome. If there's stuff they want to get rid of, I'll take it."

There's a need for ice cream pails and colored plastic bags, too. Contact the school at (320) 859-5302 to arrange for donations.

Follow Amy Chaffins on Twitter at @TheOsakisReview.

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Amy Chaffins
Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.
(320) 763-3133
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