Arts Georgia Impact Society & Culture

Clarke County 10th graders experience the arts at UGA

Experience UGA Arts Jasmine Thomas-h
Jasmine Thomas

Athens, Ga. – What began as a vision for a Clarke Central High School social studies teacher became reality Nov. 10-11 as hundreds of Athens-Clarke County 10th graders visited the University of Georgia to explore the arts.

The students, from Clarke Central one day and Cedar Shoals High School the next, came to UGA as part of Experience UGA, a partnership between the university and the Clarke County School District designed to introduce students in grades preK-12 to the myriad academic opportunities at UGA. The 10th grade trips were scheduled to coincide with Spotlight on the Arts, an annual event designed to draw attention to UGA’s visual, literary and performing arts programs.

Clarke Central social studies teacher Ashley Goodrich, who is getting her Ph.D. in educational theory and practice, came up with the idea for an arts-based field trip after several years of taking her students to the Georgia Museum of Art to study history.

While on campus the 10th-graders visited the department of theatre and film studies, the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, the Georgia Museum of Art, the Lamar Dodd School of Art, the department of dance and the College of Education.

Students filled the seats in Ramsey Hall to hear the Red Priest, a four-piece orchestra, play a collection of classical music.

In the department of theatre and film Studies, Assistant Professor Emily Sahakian’s service-learning students introduced the high school students to theatre as a socially engaged art form, not just for entertainment. They played games that helped students reflect, build community and problem-solve.

“Games are a wonderful way in theatre to engage with a community and to create a dialogue with the audience. It’s also a great way to display ideas and emotions,” said Wyatt Geist, who is getting his Master of Fine Arts degree in performance.

Experience UGA is led by the Office of Service-Learning, a unit that reports jointly to the UGA Offices of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach and the Vice President for Instruction. Launched last year, the partnership aims to bring every Clarke County student to campus for an annual field trip and opportunity to experience learning on a college campus, explore college options and interact with UGA students. More than 3,000 Clarke County students came to UGA as part of the program last year. UGA will host about 10,000 students this year and expects to bring all 13,000 PreK-12 students to campus next year and in the following years. Twelve schools and colleges, as well as eight other university units will participate in Experience UGA this year.

During the November field trips, students were introduced to dance as a way to be part of a community. Under the direction of Associate Professor Rebecca Enghauser, they learned about studio work and careers in dance. From their chairs they practiced movements and worked with partners, which taught them about listening skills and leadership.

At the Lamar Dodd School of Art, the students learned about light graffiti-art created by moving light and a camera’s long exposure-and 3-D art. Jeremy Blair, an assistant professor of art education, showed them green screen technology. They used props, put on costumes and created their own music video. They toured the building and saw a photography darkroom, a drawing and painting studio and a critique space.

At the museum students viewed both the temporary and permanent art collections and discussed how the pieces made them feel. They learned about the technical details of renaissance paintings. In the temporary collection, they made sketches of clothing or album covers.

In addition to the Red Priest, the students heard a variety of musicians perform as well as talk about their work. Among them were the Bulldog Brass Quintet and pianists Jessica Pacheco and Robert Hjelmstad.

For many, the Experience UGA arts field trip was a way to better understand art and its relationship to their lives, teachers said.

“A lot of our students have never had exposure to the arts before,” said Mary Claire Nixon, a dance teacher at Cedar Shoals High School. “Giving them this opportunity is the most important thing; we hope to create lifelong lovers of art and learning.”

Learn more about the Experience UGA at