Jessamine County Schools to Start Offering Arts Classes

Published 6:27 pm Thursday, June 6, 2024

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This summer, Jessamine County Schools (JCS) is once again offering creative opportunities through the Arts+ program. 

Andi McNeal, previously the very first principal of Red Oaks Elementary School, retired a year ago. Already, she’s back in the school system and this time, she’ll be in charge of the Arts+ program.

“I work with the JCS Arts coordinator, Amy Harrod, and our superintendent Matt Moore said ‘let’s get this started again,’” McNeal said. She began meeting with Harrod in early January and in May, held a pilot percussion camp after school at Wilmore Elementary School that “did really well,” according to Mcneal. Kids had access to instruments like steel drums and ukuleles for the percussion camp.

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“We had Arts+ pre-covid, and about 8 years ago is when they started having after school classes and summer classes. The objective was to make sure that parents would have opportunities here instead of driving to Lexington for private lessons or orchestra or all those kinds of things,” McNeal said. “It was really flourishing and then COVID hit and we didn’t do it at all. We only did a few theater things until just recently.”

Theater activities such as a winter show, a summer show, theater camps, and workshops for children and adults are part of Arts+, but McNeal handles all art offerings and private lesson offerings. 

This summer, myriad classes are offered to various age groups. Many focus on school-aged kids, but McNeal said a few this summer will also be available for adults. The classes will be paid, but will be much cheaper than many classes offered in Lexington, according to McNeal. 

“It’s open to all the kids in Jessamine County, in addition to home schooled kids. The mosaic class at the end of June allows adults. So that’s our hope– focus on the kids and then maybe bring in adults for some events,” McNeal said.

These classes will often be taught by teachers. “Kids are also more comfortable because it is people they already know teaching the private lessons. It often can be their teacher who helps them get better at the instrument they’re playing,” McNeal said.

In the fall, McNeal said she is planning to connect the arts classes and private lessons with the districts’ after school programs. 

Currently, JCS has a grant that allows children in afterschool programs to enjoy art, music, or P.E. class every month for free. These will still be offered for after-school students where teachers choose the monthly class for all students, with the paid classes included as an additional option if individual students are interested. 

It’s important to McNeal to target after-school program-attending students since they’re already spending extra time on campus. 

“(The after school kids are) there until 6 p.m. and we’ve surveyed and parents said they would pay money to do lessons at their kids’ schools instead of going to Lexington,” McNeal said.

Classes started on June 3 and are held throughout the summer. Some classes are over the course of the summer one day a week and some are held as a one-time class. 

Activities include workshops on mosaics, photography and filmmaking, audio and lighting techniques for the stage, visual arts, sewing, and orchestra. Each class specifies the approved age groups and prices. All information can be found on