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Roane State, Oak Ridge High School dual enrollment art program gives students unique experiences, opportunities

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Roane State Community College
Roane State, Oak Ridge High School dual enrollment art program gives students unique experiences, opportunities

Artists working in ceramics must also be part scientist and part engineer, says Roane State's Bryan Wilkerson, an associate professor of art and design on the college's Oak Ridge campus.

Oak Ridge High School students involved in the college's dual enrollment program in ceramics are mastering those challenges as they mold their artistic skills. They are being supervised and taught by Wilkerson and high school art teacher Gisela Schrock.

Wilkerson and Schrock launched the dual enrollment program after meeting at the Knoxville Museum of Art and becoming friends.

"Gisela and I are very different in how we approach teaching art," Wilkerson said.   "I think it's good for students to get multiple feedback and instruction, but we also communicate so we're on the same page."

Those enrolled in the program receive four hours of college credit for their endeavors. "It's been a fantastic experience and is working out well," said Wilkerson, a Roane State educator since 1999.

The students are also "getting another layer in their educational experience" while learning about Roane State as a higher education option they may not have previously considered, he said.

Wilkerson goes to the high school for the dual enrollment class, and he and Schrock make presentations about ceramic artwork and have hands-on demonstrations.

Schrock said dual credit ceramics classes have been offered at Oak Ridge High for several years now.

“The ability level and thought that goes into works has really been evident as seen in the outcome of student creations,” she said.

Students have won numerous awards for their creations in competitions at the Tennessee Valley Fair, Knoxville Museum of Art and other venues.

"Dual ceramics challenged me to think outside of regular art competitions and to put meaning into every piece I create," student Waverly Mullins said.

There's a fully equipped ceramic studio at the high school for both sculptural and wheel-thrown works of art. The students' newest project: narrative sculptural vessels.

"The students start by sketching out 10 concepts and refine it down to a single working drawing, which they will begin to bring to life out of clay," Wilkerson said.

The program is paying hefty dividends for Miranda Conger, who graduated from Oak Ridge High in May. She took dual enrollment during her junior and senior years and won a $63,000 National Merit Scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago.

"It (dual enrollment) was probably 90 percent of why I got the scholarship," she said.

She received college credit "before I went to college so now I can take more advanced classes," she said.