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Talented Canyon Lake High School Artists Stay Involved in Their Community

Canyon Lake High School junior Kayci Robards, left, won first place Tuesday for art she submitted to the Dia de los Muertos Festival-New Braunfels.

Did you know you can “letter” in art at Canyon Lake High School (CLHS)?

Students’ artwork doesn’t just hang on a wall at CLHS or sit in a gallery for other students to see.

Art teachers Nell Anderson and Kara Stracener keep their combined 240 art students busy entering shows and volunteering their time and talents for community-service projects like painting murals for the Community Resource & Recreation Center of Canyon Lake’s (CRRC) Rec Center or preparing to decorate the walls of a daycare center with nursery rhymes.

“Art is their love and their passion,” said Anderson, whose student, junior Kayci Robards won first place Tuesday for art submitted to the Dia de los Muertos Festival-New Braunfels.

The teacher, who also works with the New Braunfels Art League, said she’s mentoring Robards, a newcomer to the school who is thinking about going to college to become an art teacher herself.

The student painter won gift certificates to two local restaurants for her winning piece of art.

“Art is something I’m super passionate about so I was very excited to participate in this poster contest, and I’m grateful that my poster was chosen,” Robard said.

Anderson said this kind of excitement and passion creates a strong “vibe” in art classes.

“Students come in and they feel safe and their ideas are validated, and important, and they’re able to express themselves in a structured environment,” she said. “I like the country kids. There’s just something really special about these kids at Canyon Lake.”

CLHS art students are preparing for the upcoming High School Visual Arts Scholastic Event in February 2022. They’ll compete against students from other area schools including Austin ISD, which submits half of the entries for the competition.

Anderson said she tells her students VASE is the place for “that really cool art piece that you’ve always been thinking about.”

The hardest part for many will be waking up at 7 a.m. to drive to San Marcos and discuss their art with judges.

“I judge VASE as well,” Anderson said. “I tell them it’s not there to be scary. It’s a cool event. The more animated and fun, the better your score will be.”


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