Art Mentor Program Creates Win-Win for Wellin Museum and Clinton School

By Sirianna Santacrose '15

A routine meeting about a school visit to the Wellin Museum between representatives of the museum and a Clinton Middle School art teacher has led to a rewarding collaboration for both Hamilton College students and Clinton middle schoolers.

During a fall semester meeting with Clinton art teacher Amy Pape, Wellin Museum School and Family Educator Amber Spadea and Wellin intern Sirianna Santacrose ’15 learned that Pape’s art students annually enter the New York Olympics of the Visual Arts (OVA) Competition. Pape mentioned that she wished she had more help in supervising their yearlong art projects, and Santacrose immediately suggested having Hamilton students come in to help.

After reaching out to the Hamilton community to gauge interest, working with the COOP to arrange transportation, and coordinating student schedules, Santacrose founded the OVA Mentor Program. Beginning last November, Hamilton students volunteered their time weekly to mentor the middle school students in one of six categories: photography, illustration, drawing, fashion design, painting and sculpture. Mentors helped students brainstorm art project ideas, collect and to organize materials, and then execute their artistic visions. To date, 15 Hamilton students have acted as OVA mentors at Clinton Middle School.

The 2014–15 OVA mentors are Kianee DeJesus ’17, Cale Wagner ’18, Max Freedman ’17, Ellison Sherrill ’17, Nina Hernandez ’18, Saige Devlin ’18, Rachael Kane ’16, Claudia Price ’18, Cian Barron ’16, Hannah Mooney ’17, Victoria Negron ’17, Lily Johnston ’16, Charlotte Simons ’16, Sarah Scalet ’15 and Kaily Williams ’15. The program will continue next year, led by Charlotte Simons.

On April 30 Clinton students and their families will travel to Saratoga Springs to compete against more than 1,000 students from schools across New York State.

The OVA competition, which is organized by the New York State Art Teachers Association, has a twofold purpose: students work to solve visual arts problems throughout the school year, which they submit for judging in the spring, and they also compete in short-range problems the day of the competition. Awards are given for outstanding projects in each category. This year, several OVA mentors will accompany Clinton art students to Saratoga to support them at the competition and to see the results of their collaborative work.

The middle school students, OVA mentors, and Pape are all working hard to finish the projects in time for the competition next week. All have put in countless hours of work to plan and execute their art projects. One painting student said, “There’s a lot of work leading up to [the competition], but the day of it’s all worth it.” A sculpture student, new to the OVA program this year, said she joined because, “I like art and it was something new.”

Painting mentor Saige Devlin ’18 said she enjoyed being an OVA mentor this year because, “It makes me remember when I was in middle school. I wish I’d had something like this! Being a part of students bouncing ideas off of each other is pretty cool.” Sculpture mentor Lily Johnston ’16 added, “I did it so I could connect to the Clinton community. I really enjoyed working with the kids, and it’s a fun way to spend a Thursday afternoon!”


The OVA Competition was held on April 30th in Saratoga and Clinton Middle School placed in the following categories:

First Place
Fasion Design

Second Place

3rd place


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