Paint and pals at Opportunity Center’s Art in the Park

By Sheri Trusty, Seneca County Media Relations Coordinator

Opportunity Center students created collective artworks that will be sold through an online auction during Art at the Park. (Photo by Sheri Trusty) 

It was all about messy fun at the Seneca County Opportunity Center as students enjoyed Art in the Park on May 7. Students walked from station to station swirling socks in tie-dye paint, dipping balloons in buckets of paint, throwing paint with flyswatters and squirting paint onto canvas.

A student squirts paint at Art in the Park. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Beth Smith, a retired arts and crafts teacher at the school, returns each summer to help with Art in the Park.

“It’s put on by the Parent ACT Council. The kids come together to do collective art,” Smith said. “There are quite a lot of different things for them to do.”

The artwork the students created will be displayed around the community and then sold through an online auction. The money raised from the auction will fund supplies for next year’s Art in the Park, Christmas gifts for students, and food for Dinner and Dialogue, among other activities at the Opportunity Center.

Art in the Park was held at Opportunity Park, an inclusive playground on the grounds of the Opportunity Center. The park is open to the public every day from sunrise to sunset.

A student from Calvert High School, left, helps an Opportunity Center student make tie-dye socks. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Eleven Calvert Catholic High School students volunteered to help at Art in the Park. This was the second year Calvert students participated in the annual event.

“It’s our pleasure to come here. We looked forward to this,” said Marla Shultz, who teaches art to high school and middle school students at Calvert. “We’re very thankful they have us here.”

Marla chose some of her top art students for Art in the Park.

“These are my advanced students. They are leaders,” Marla said. “All of them are creative and passionate about their love of art. This event gave them real-world experience and let them share their art with others.”

Smith was grateful Calvert students chose to share their gifts with Opportunity Center students.

“They are wonderful. I can’t say enough good about them,” she said.

Beth Smith holds one of the works of art created by Opportunity Center students that will be sold through an online auction. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Marla’s son, Harrison Shultz, was among the Calvert art students who helped at the event. He volunteered last year and was happy to return.

“It’s definitely exciting just to see the kids come and see the smiles on their faces,” Harrison said. “They are enjoying this, and it’s good for the Calvert students to see what the Opportunity Center is like.”

A student takes a turn weaving material to create a work of art. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Harrison said last year’s Art in the Park provided his first visit to the Opportunity Center. What stuck out to him the most was the students’ extensive abilities.

“I got to see what the kids can do,” he said. “Some of them didn’t want to leave. They wanted to stay and talk with us.”