Students sat at tables in subdued light, their gazes moving from their black papers to the screen on a wall of the art room. The Brooksville Elementary School Art Club members were re-creating Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night with chalk pastel. "At Brooksville Elementary," said art teacher Laurie Enstrom, "we like to have a lot of after-school programs and we like to vary them." Over the past couple of years, options have included a writing club, a step team, a Legos Club, Math Olympics and K-Kids. The Spanish Club and Reading Enrichment Bug Club are brand new. This is the third year for the art group. It meets for an hour twice a month and is limited to about 20 students. Enstrom requests a $7 fee for supplies. "We're on a tight budget, but it's working out," she said.
They stretch their dollars by using old computer paper for sketches and inexpensive construction paper, like what the children were using for their Starry Night drawings. Supplies are also donated by individuals and organizations.
The club has demonstrators and field trips. "I gave them a potter's wheel demonstration," Enstrom said. "They will be doing some pottery."
Last year the students took a field trip to the Hernando County Fine Arts Council in the old city hall building. "They really, really enjoyed that," Enstrom said.
An artist from the council, Julie Komenda, came to the school to demonstrate batik on paper. "She was wonderful, and the kids loved her," Enstrom said.
Besides the art the students do in the club, they can use the time to continue work on the projects they do in art class during school.
The Art Club is for fourth- and fifth-graders. Fifth-grader Jesse Sims, 11, is in her second year with the club. She joined it "because I like to draw. I really had a good time last year."
Her twin, Josey, joined "because I just like drawing, and my sister inspired me to be creative."
The club is a way for students to visit after school, too. Besides enjoying drawing, fifth-grader Sydney Zajac, 10, said she joined because "all my friends wanted to."
Fifth-graders Devin Davis, 11, Trey Johnston, 11, and Cameron Price, 11, joined just this year. They like drawing, especially freestyle.
For Devin, the club is a chance to expand his talent. "All my friends think I'm good at art, and I think I'm pretty good," he said, "and it's fun. Something to do after school."