>Crook County High School art teacher Judy Page offers inspiration to her students
Art can play an important role in the lives of high school students who are lucky enough to have it as part of the curriculum. Judy Page at Crook County High School believes that all of her students have talent, and once they acquire the basics, they can blossom into successful artists.
   Art reaches a student on many levels and can provide a creative emotional outlet - opening up a whole new world of expression. For some students at Crook County High School art is just a hobby, but many of the students look toward incorporating art as a career focus and are taking their studies with Page quite seriously.
   Page said that when she was a student in school the opportunity to take art classes was not always available. Perhaps this the one reason she is so dedicated to the program today.
   This art teacher has been the driving force behind the art program at the local high school for almost 30 years. "This was my first job and I was the first art teacher here at CCHS, and once I started working here, I just really enjoyed it," she said.
   Page feels so strongly about art being part of a young person's learning experience that she has been striving to make sure that every student has the opportunity to experience it as part of their studies. "I think art is so important to teenagers," she explained. "They need a way to express themselves."
   Art studies under Page's direction include classes for beginners. This introduction into the world of art teaches students basic drawing techniques and launches them into work with watercolor and clay. The class samples just about every area of art, giving the student the chance to explore and develop natural talents and follow their own interests.
   These students can then move on to advanced art, which focuses more on painting and drawing. And for those who have an inclination to continue working with clay, they have the option of taking a ceramics class delving deeper into hand and coil building, working on the wheel, as well as experiencing three dimensional sculpting.
   Page believes that anyone can be an artist, as long as they have a willingness to learn. She indicated that her role as a teacher is most fulfilling when a student finishes a piece and presents it to the class, showing pride in that achievement.
   Page's students seem to rely on the far reaching expertise and guidance she offers. Whenever she is drawn to a student's work, her eye for detail is unmistakable and she is most generous handing out praise. Her ability to relate to and communicate with the kids in the classroom is remarkable, and would surely set an example for all teachers.
   "Art is just like a sport, if you don't practice you won't get better at it," she said. "Born artists are the ones who love it even before they get started in class, but they still have to practice."
   "The times have changed, and there are so many art jobs out there now that it's just amazing," she explained. Today, if a student is truly interested in pursuing a career in art there are many good paying jobs available, particularly due to the advent of computers and the ever expanding world of computer graphics. The "starving artist" stigma is gradually falling away and skilled artists are in ever greater demand, especially in areas such as marketing and advertising.
   Like many artists, Page said she has always been compelled to do what she loves, and particularly enjoys working with the mediums of oil paint, watercolor and clay in her free time.
   With her retirement coming up next year, she indicated she also looks forward to spending time in her new ceramic studio.
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