Explore and Soar wins Governor's Award for Arts in Education
The Explore and Soar 21st Century Community Learning Center program received one of the highest honors possible in West Virginia, for its dedication to STEAM education in extended-day programming. Through projects such as Challenge America, Voices of the Mountain and School Sculptures with Kevin Reese, the program has given students opportunities to work with professional mentors, use problem-solving skills, and innovate and create in a variety of areas. Congratulations and continued success!

"Voices of the Mountain" a Great Success!
Van students had the chance to see their plays brought from page to stage as Explore and Soar partnered with Appalachian Artists Collective (AAC) for an extensive playwriting project. Leah Turley and Mike Murdock of AAC worked with students to create one-acts. These short plays and monologues gave students the chance to get creative and practice their editing skills. The plays were then rehearsed and performed live by professional actors from AAC. The performance took place on March 25 in the Clay Center’s Walker Theater and again the following day at Van Jr./Sr. High School to rave reviews! Special thanks to our actors: Tyler Eldridge, Mariah Plante, Olivia Morris and Justin Skidmore.

Explore and Soar With Us!

If you are a student at Madison Middle, Sherman Junior High or Van Junior High Schools, please contact your school principal for registration information. Explore these web pages and learn about the program and its many offerings and then come Soar with us. Don’t miss out on all the fun! And, students don’t get to have all the fun. If you are a professional interested in sharing your time and talent with the students in this program, please contact Staci Leech-Cornell at 304-561-3511 or sleech@theclaycenter.org.

Explore and Soar Summer Camp a Great Success
Summer 2013 marked the first summer camp for our Explore and Soar program, and it was a smashing success! Students from Van and Sherman Junior High Schools and Madison Middle School met for a week of programs that included acting, martial arts and self -defense, visual art and earth science.  Mentors Leah Turley, John Busse, Sara Busse and instructors from Cumbridge Family Martial Arts worked with students each day.  A great time was had by all, and we hope to expand the program in 2014!

Art and Science Connect in Challenge America Project!
Explore and Soar students got the chance to work with artist and scientist mentor teams in an exciting project through Challenge America. Artist/scientist teams presented lessons at our three sites in late spring 2013 and students worked with everything from lasers to watercolors as they explored connections between the disciplines. Check out the details and pictures of each project on each school’s program page! 

Engineering Some Fun at Explore and Soar!
Students at all sites were visited by engineers Melissa Thompson and Amanda McClellan and worked in collaborative groups to explore kinetic and potential energy, engineering, creative thinking and more as they used simple materials to create their own roller coasters! Through all the “ups and downs” of construction, students were given the opportunity to design, create and then revise theirv


Cooking Up Something Special
Students at all three Explore and Soar sites were treated to a visit by garden chef April Hamilton, who shared some playful and delicious techniques to create healthy and artful after school snacks. Several students had never had the opportunity to try many of the ingredients April introduced them to – like hummus. However, the chickpea dish now has many new Boone County converts! Students honed their culinary skills while they worked in groups to prepare their snacks and then enjoyed the fruits – and vegetables – of their labors.  


D.C. Artist Kevin Reese Works with Explore & Soar Sites!
School Sculpture artist Kevin Reese works with students all over the country to create original works of art for their schools. During fall 2012, thanks to funding from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant and the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Kevin was able to work with all three of our Explore & Soar sites! Each school now has a permanent sculpture installation, showcasing the work of Kevin and the students for years to come. Students used a variety of skills in creating their work including working in cooperative groups, mathematics for measurement, and engineering and design to create balanced works of art.




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