posted March 28, 2008

Hope and CASA Student Works Featured at HAAC

The Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program at Hope College is the focus of an exhibition of student work being featured at the Holland Area Arts Council in conjunction with CASA's 20th-anniversary celebration.

The arts council will be exhibiting self-portrait collages by the CASA children as well as large-format photographs taken by Hope College art students to document the after-school program in action.

The exhibition will open with a reception at the council on Thursday, April 3, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will continue through Saturday, May 10.

The public is invited to both the reception and the exhibition. Admission is free.

The CASA children created their self-portraits during visits to the council. The exhibition of their work is titled "Through My Eyes."

The Hope students, who are enrolled in a photography class taught by Steve Nelson of the college's art faculty, chronicled a variety of aspects of the elementary-age students' participation in CASA, which is an after-school academic and cultural enrichment program that meets at Hope.

"They're photographs mainly featuring the Hope student mentors and the CASA students interacting in various ways," said Nelson, who is an associate professor of art and chairperson of the department. "The photographs have a sense of the children's energy and spontaneity and engagement with the learning process."

CASA, a community organization housed at Hope, focuses on academic and cultural enrichment for at-risk second- through fifth-grade students. The program, which runs year-round, is intended to improve the students' academic performance by providing the tools they need to succeed in school.

The students meet after school twice per week in one-on-one sessions with volunteer tutors, most of whom are Hope students, throughout the school year, and in the mornings during a six-week summer session. The academic-year and summer programs serve Holland and West Ottawa students. A total of 132 elementary-age students are participating during the current school year, the highest number ever.

CASA was established in 1987 by Marge Rivera Bermann and Latin Americans United for Progress (LAUP) and originally housed at First United Methodist Church. The program moved to Hope College in 1989.

The program is celebrating the current 2007-08 school year as its 20th-anniversary year. The commemoration will culminate in a community-oriented celebration reception on Thursday, April 17, at 4 p.m. in the college's Maas Center auditorium.

The Hope students with photographs being featured in the arts council exhibition are: senior Matthew Baker of Grand Rapids; senior Luke Boote of Deerfield, Ill.; senior Hilary Bosscher of McBain; junior Hillary Delhagen of Pultneyville, N.Y.; freshman Jessica Early of Vestal, N.Y.; freshman Laura Imbrock of Grove City, Ohio; sophomore David Moore of Sewickley, Pa.; senior Keith Mulder of Portage; senior Christin Rose of Bridgeport; senior Jennifer Ruprich of Clarendon Hills, Ill.; freshman Michael Sit of Riverside, Ill.; senior Rosemarie Villarreal of Saginaw; and freshman Joshua Wunderlich of Traverse City.

The Holland Area Arts Council is located in downtown Holland at 150 E. Eighth St. The council is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.