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New visual, performing arts coming to Okaloosa schools this year

Amy Culler, left, signs up her son, Darien, for Abracadoodle Art Education lessons during Riverside Elementary School orientation.

CRESTVIEW — During Riverside Elementary School orientation, Darien Culler was excited to add a special component to his kindergarten curriculum.

"I signed up for art!" he told his mom, Amy.

Area students are eagerly dabbling in visual and performing arts at each of our schools. Opportunities are as diverse as dance for elementary school kids and digital graphic design for high schoolers.

At Crestview High School, popular art teacher and department chair Laurel Breaux’s resignation has Principal Bob Jones searching for a replacement.

Tonnar Estingoy, the school's other visual arts teacher, has such as full schedule he is unable to accommodate Breaux's classes, Jones said.

New to the area is the Northwood Arts and Science Academy, integrating visual and performing arts with other academic subjects. Students have two weekly fine arts classes and will participate in arts showcases.

"Arts integration is an approach to teaching and learning across content areas in which students experience, demonstrate, and deepen understandings through the arts," the school's website explains.

"Students engage in higher-order thinking, including creative processes, to connect the arts and other subject areas."

Abracadoodle, a for-profit arts instruction program, offers two six-week courses at Antioch, Bob Sikes and Riverside Elementary Schools this year. Tuition is $85 for each course.

"We've had a real good response," the local franchise's Teri McGinnis said. "This is going to be a good, strong year."

Abracadoodle's first series is a self-portrait class called "One in a Million," because "when kids are starting school, it's all about them," McGinnis said.

Community artist volunteers will also continue to offer OVAL Art in some schools, in which students are exposed to classic works of art, and then interpret them in their own style.

North Okaloosa arts programs

Baker School: Instrumental and choral music, high school and middle school: Tony Chiarito

Crestview High School: Instrumental music: Jody Dunn and Charlie Andersen; Choral music: Kevin Lusk; Drama: Annette Gebhardt; Visual arts: Tonnar Estingoy

Laurel Hill School: Digital graphic design, high school: Wanda Cooper

Antioch Elementary: Music: Patti Mitchell; OVAL Art: community volunteers; Abracadoodle Art Education

Bob Sikes Elementary: Music: Gayle Vickers; Abracadoodle Art Education

Davidson Middle: Instrumental music: Chris Treadway; Choral music: Keitha Bledsoe

Northwood Arts and Science Academy: Music: Jeri Downs; Drama: Peggy Pierce; Dance: Jasmin Roser

Riverside Elementary: Music: Betty Avery; Abracadoodle Art Education

Shoal River Middle: Instrumental music: Kim Whaley; Choral music: Steve Box

Walker Elementary: Art: Sarah Harris

Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: New visual, performing arts coming to Okaloosa schools this year