Not just finger painting

By Cody Ellerd

Around the Island

``It's 10:45 and I have 400 kids I'm trying to feed.''

This was the message left by Islander Sara Liberty-Laylin on the first day of school, when the apologetic principal of Adams Elementary School in Seattle was too swamped to talk to the Reporter about the Seattle Mayor's Arts Award she had just received.

At Bumbershoot's opening ceremony on Friday, Liberty-Laylin was presented with the award which honors contributions that make a difference to the community's artistic and cultural life.

An educator for nearly 30 years and principal of Adams in Ballard for five, she impressed the mayor's office with the way she brought art into classrooms and used it as a learning tool.

Teachers at Adams have received training from professional artists which they apply to everyday school subjects. They make an effort to boost cognitive development in young kids. Lessons in the visual and performing arts are given to all students, including those in special education and bilingual classes.

``For a long time the PTA has brought in artists-in-residence. Sara really integrated that into the everyday curriculum,'' said Patty Lott, an Adams parent and former PTA president. ``She has a very unique approach and it took a great deal of courage.''

Hopefully she'll have enough to get her through the morning snack.

What to be, or

not to be

Looking back on the lazy days of summer that have suddenly slipped away, Mercer Island High School senior George Stanton may be breathing a big sigh of relief.

He spent two weeks in August as one of 65 students selected to take part in an Oregon Shakespeare Festival summer seminar -- a program officials describe as ``rigorous.'' Stanton's mother prefers the word ``grueling,'' which came up more often than ``George'' in a phone conversation about her son's summer.

After an application process in which the 17-year-old submitted seven essays and three recommendations, he had to research his local theater community and memorize a bevy of dramatic material even before arriving. Once there, Stanton participated in a surprising array of workshops that included not only Renaissance dance, stage combat, sound and lighting, but a great deal of instruction in the business side of the theatrical world, such as marketing and publicity, fundraising and administration.

``Those are things you usually don't think about as a high school student,'' Jolanne, Stanton's mother, said.

The solid grounding Stanton received in Shakespeare over the summer should help him out this fall when the high school stages a production of ``Macbeth.'' And even though George is looking at colleges with strong interests in history and psychology as well, his mother is sure that with all the work he put into his summer, he's bound to get something valuable out of experience no matter what.

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