It has been a little over a month and a half since the beginning of CASA, the FREE Creative After-School Arts program of the Rangeley Friends of the Arts.

In that time, there have been over a dozen regular participants.

Although the program is available to children in grades five through twelve, most of them are between the ages of eleven and sixteen.

The program has had to change quite a bit from previous years due to COVID. Rules about wearing a mask and physical distancing have had to be gotten used to when planning art activities.

Natalie Alves enjoying a hot cup of Earl Grey during the first Tea Time event. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Another change is that the program used to be offered five school days a week but as it follows the Rangeley Lakes Regional School “RLRS” schedule, Wednesdays have been removed from the schedule.

For the most part though, there have been some popular and familiar activities. For example, the program still includes regular “Film Fridays” where the group decompresses from a long week while watching movies like “Spirited Away,” “Ratatouille” and the “Bee Movie.”

Mike Schrader during violin session. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Mike Schrader still draws a steady group by offering musical instruction on “Music Mondays.” The difference is that instead of a full band, he separates the group by their chosen instrument. He adapted to the safety requirements by blocking off sections of time for smaller groups of students who want to study violin, guitar, trumpet and drums.

Ambitious kicks during dance time with Leah Watson Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

As was done in previous years there is a hope for volunteerism and collaborative group projects. So far, there has been a positive response to the program by many members of the community. Summer resident Leah Watson was able to volunteer and share her dance experience for two CASA sessions before heading back to NYC.

Theatrical Thursday with Anne Crump. Stephanie Chu-O’NeilBoth Anne Walker and Janice Adler have donated some much needed supplies and reference materials. Regular volunteers include Anne Crump who helps run “Theatrical Thursdays” and Brittany Wetherill who was kind enough to volunteer to run the much-loved “Tea Times.” Others like Ernie Gurney of WRGY and Sonja Johnson of RLRS offered to help in some upcoming projects.

Masked tea time group. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

Of course, there has been a variety of art projects. To date they have included beading, felting, collaging, painting, drawing and some Halloween crafts as well.

Plush ghosts for Halloween. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

If you have any artistic skills or supplies you would like to share with the group they would be much appreciated. Maybe you have some favorite project ideas you want to share, or would like to give of your time to help. If so, please send an email to [email protected] I know the new site coordinator would really love to hear from you! For more information about the program, please visit rangeleyarts.org and click on “Youth Programs.”

Beaded spoons in preparation for teatime. Stephanie Chu-O’Neil

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