Summit Academy Community School – Warren students were supplied with all the essentials necessary to participate in virtual art sessions that promise to have both creative and calming impacts.

In late artist Bob Ross-fashion, about 85 Summit Academy Community School – Warren students will dip brushes into pots of watercolor as they paint along with teachers and board member Kendra Godiciu tomorrow. The virtual painting event, “Canvas & Cocoa,” may inspire “happy little” hearts as a nod to Valentine’s Day. The art session could also help students tap a coping skill beneficial to those of all ages, especially during difficult times.

“We know art plays a therapeutic role in calming. It’s a creative outlet for kids as they continue to deal with the pandemic,” says Principal Allison Glass. She adds that the virtual art event is an example of the types of programs she and her staff hope to present to students to help them through trauma and prepare for their return to the classroom in March.

The thrust behind such initiatives is to create what Glass calls a “responsive classroom” centered on mindfulness and safety.

“Our classrooms are safe places to make mistakes, take your armor off and be vulnerable,” Glass explains.

The science behind the “Canvas & Cocoa” virtual art program may not be so apparent to students participating, and that’s a good thing, according to Glass. The event was also planned as a fun substitute for the school’s traditional Valentine’s Day party.

During the art sessions, which will be held in tandem with parent-teacher conferences, students in grades K-3 will embellish gift boxes with Valentine’s Day-themed art as they paint along with their teachers. In the same vein, students in grades 4 to 7 will paint holiday-centered artwork with board member Godiciu, who is an art teacher for Warren City Schools.

Families were provided all the necessary supplies from the school. Kits include cocoa packets so students can enjoy sip-and-paint sessions.

Glass says her school typically offers about four art-centered events throughout the school year, including Saturday craft days complete with breakfast for students and families. She says her school community can expect to see a growing presence of music, art and yoga, along with therapeutic martial arts, to provide emotional support to students not only during the pandemic and their readjustment to classroom, but ongoing.

“We’re looking for ways we can intentionally build out in these capacities,” says Glass. One step toward this goal is already in motion, she says, with the school’s new middle school intervention specialist, Joey Koval, who is also a musician.