Johnston City Saves Art Program

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By Amy Fox
By Benjy Jeffords

JOHNSTON CITY--  The art program at Johnston City High School will be offered again this school year, thanks to the help from the community.  After just a few months of fundraising, the art program collected more than $21,000 to keep the program alive for another school year.

Kathy Rushing is delighted to walk into her art class at Johnston City High School.  She didn't know if she would ever get a chance to teach again.

"It's frustrating for a teacher, and I'm sure its frustrating for the school board," said Rushing.

The art program was eliminated as the school district cut $900,000 from its budget earlier this year. 

"We didn't want to lose any of the programs we lost, but we did lose art," said Terry Milt, superintendent for Johnston City Community Unit School District. 

But Rushing was given the opportunity to take matters into her own hands.

Milt said, "Kathy was given a challenge. Can you raise sufficient money to bring your art program back?"

Within just a few days, Rushing and her art students came up with ideas to bring in money and bring the program back. 

From bake sales to the farmers market, they've kept busy this summer collecting more than $21,000.

Rushing said, "The kids have really put in a lot of effort. We raised a lot of money, and it's pretty amazing to me that we raised as much as we did in a couple months."

The initial goal was to raise twice that amount - $40,000.  But on Thursday, the school board decided they had enough funding to bring the art program back for the upcoming school year. 

"There was no way that the board felt, given that effort on her part, the kids part, the community's part, that we were not going to bring art back," explained Milt.

"It taught the kids, I think, a really important lesson that if you put forth the effort, you can be rewarded for that," said Rushing.

But it's not over yet.

Milt said, "Now, we just got to be able to sustain it, and we got to keep our expenditures in line."

The school will continue to look for grant opportunities to help keep the art program going, but that could take months. Right now, they're focusing on the upcoming school year and getting supplies ready for the first day of school.

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