Olean fifth-grade

Fifth-grade students from the Olean Intermediate Middle School show off book covers they created during a session at the Tri-County Arts Council studio Friday.

OLEAN — The book covers were for stories with titles such as the “Witch Sitter, “ “Prank Wars” and “The Rocking Boys.”

The stories were written by fifth-grade students from Olean Intermediate Middle School who embellished their novels by creating book covers Friday at the Tri-County Arts Council studio on West State Street in Olean.

Fifth-grade teacher Laura Hamed said she and three other fifth-grade teachers, Marissa Burrows, Cari Matejka and Tammy Martin, decided they wanted to try something different with their students.

“Cari Matejka said, ‘Let’s have our kids create narratives or stories — it was something we did in our ELA class,’” Hamed said of the English Language Arts program that encouraged students to write books on various topics. “We came (to the Arts Council) to do the covers.”

Hamed said they hit on the idea to have the students create their book covers at the Arts Council when she and another teacher were walking past the studio one day.

“We were walking by and I said, ‘I’ve got to go in there,’” Hamed shared. “And then I met (Tina Hastings, executive director) and she was so kind.”

Hamed said the program at the Arts Council, which was held in two sessions for four classes of students, was successful and they’d like to visit the studio again.

Hastings said the studio is available to all school groups, and programs can be modified for each group. She noted the fifth-graders were given the option to draw covers, make collages or use both in their artwork.

“We try to offer something for whatever their theme is,” Hastings said of school programs. “Or we can come up with a project, too.”

Hastings said the school programs are enjoyable for her staff in the new, larger studio and gallery. The Arts Council has been in the new studio and gallery for the past several months after moving from its former location in Allegany.

“It’s a lot of fun now that we have this bigger space to do this,” Hastings remarked.

A student named Jaden said he enjoyed the program as he liked learning “different techniques for coloring” and other art activities taught in the studio. A couple of the students said they planned to give their books to relatives as presents.

Another student said she liked the fact that she and the other children could select the art medium of their choice for their book covers.

“And I liked how the (Arts Council) teachers were nice to us,” the student added.

For more information on the Arts Council, or to schedule a class call 372-7455, or send emails to info@myartscouncil.net.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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