Art Start

Bridging the Connection to Classroom Curriculum Through the Arts

OPEF brings community visual and performing artists to D97 classrooms, facilitating discipline-based projects that link with their core curriculum. Experienced artists bring expertise and new perspectives to K – 2nd grade classrooms, providing connections to the “real world.” We believe expressing ideas through art awakens the creative spirit and opens students’ eyes to deeper meaning in their work. These hands-on projects engage students of varying learning styles and create new opportunities for children to excel in school.

When OPEF brings an artist to my Kindergarten Classroom, my kids are so excited and engaged. They can’t wait for the next time the artist will come back. I just love this program and all that it offers. The discussions about the experience continue for weeks after the artist leaves. Thank you OPEF!

— D97  Kindergarten Teacher

Art Start Program Goals

From mosaic art to book making and African drumming lessons, community artists give our students a wider vocabulary, and introduce new perspectives. Art Start aims to provide:

Cognitive Development

Helps develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and learning skills.


Reinforce a connection between artistic principles and STEM concepts.

Fostering Imagination

Foster an environment of creativity, social engagement, and innovation.

Builds Confidence

Promotes creative communication and confidence.

Historical Development

Provides historical and cultural references or expression.

Our Mission is Strengthened by Our Values:

To develop and support programs that embody these guiding principles: Equity and inclusion, A sense of belonging, Inspiration, Real-world Connections, Innovation, Community Engagement and Fun

Longfellow 2nd Graders Create Mosaics with Local Artist

Mr. Naber’s 2nd Grade Class at Longfellow Elementary School welcomed award winning and professional local artist Jennifer McNulty for an Art Start experience. During this in-school program, Jennifer worked with the students to create paper tile and photo mosaics. The kids created unique tile mosaics and then presented them to their peers. OPEF’s goal is for every D97 student to experience at least one Art Start experience before they enter 3rd Grade.

Help Support OPEF’s Mission Today

Behind Every OPEF Program, lesson and camp is the intention to affect positive change, support families in need and provide STEAM opportunities for children.