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Rangeley students get creative with a little help from their friends

Rangeley Lakes Regional School students, Fletcher Dellavalle, at left seated, and dancing at right, Isobel Straub, film a movie onstage at the RFA Lakeside Theater in Ragneley for a school project. The advanced technology at the theater, as well as film editing software, will be available to students for their creative projects, thanks to grant awards and the support of the Rangeley Friends of Arts.

[Editor's Note: this article has been corrected to indicate that Valerie Zapolsky is a board member with RFA, not RSU 78]

RANGELEY - A series of newly-awarded grants will make it possible for RSU 78 students to get creative after school with the help of Rangeley Friends of the Arts.

The grant funding comes from three different organizations: the Maine Community Foundation, United Way of the Tri Valley Area and the Simon Family Foundation. The funds will be used to create an after-school art program for students in grades 6-12.

“There isn’t anything other than competitive sports for them. The younger kids have a lot of activities, but once you get to be a teenager there isn’t anything to do except play sports,” Rangeley Friends of the Arts board member Valerie Zapolsky said. “We hope to fill the gap for kids who don’t want to do that.”

The program features a flexible curriculum by offering a space for any student who is interested in being creative, or even just being immersed in a creative environment. RFA is housed at the Lakeside Theater on Main Street in the center of Rangeley. The theater has been home to many artistic programs for students, including music and drama camps as well as the RSU 78 theater productions.

“We have always been really involved in student education,” Zapolsky said. “We want kids here getting their creative juices flowing.”

Lakeside Theater has a wide range of supplies and tools available, including a fully equipped theater, musical instruments and even the local radio station. Kids are encouraged to bring their ideas for projects to the program and will have complete access to equipment.

“The radio station has agreed to participate, so if anyone wants to make their own show they could do that,” Zapolsky said.

The after-school program will have one employee to help sign students in and out and monitor activities, but will be run mostly by volunteers. Nearly 20 local artists have agreed to facilitate lessons on various activities such as woodworking, sculpture and watercolor painting.

The grant writers, Zapolsky along with Millie Hoekstra and Mary Ellen Simon, are still working on applications for more funds, but plan on launching the program in the fall of 2017. RSU 78 has agreed to provide transportation.

“I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be great,” Zapolsky said.

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