Creativity Week brings Mitchell High School art ambassador students to 401 Create, Mitchell Public Library

Visits a way for students to spread the creativity bug

Jeaneth Larsen poses for a photo while glazing her mug during a workshop with Mitchell High School art ambassadors on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at 401 Create.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — Mitchell High School students are taking a step outside the classroom this week in an effort to spread the creativity bug throughout the community.

The group, made up primarily but not exclusively of art students at Mitchell High School, made a stop at 401 Create on Thursday, helping patrons there glaze mugs and bowls. The collaborative effort is part of Creativity Week, an observance sponsored by Crayola that runs from Jan. 23 to Jan. 29 and is set up to promote the benefits of creating art.

This is the second year of the promotion, and Marica Shannon, an art teacher at Mitchell High School, was chosen this year to serve as one of 75 creativity ambassadors across the country. She helped organize the events that are taking place this week at 401 Create and the Mitchell Public Library.

“It’s a great opportunity because Crayola really believes in the importance of creativity,” Shannon said. “The week of celebration and bringing attention to the art opportunities in the community and some of the great things that have been happening, I think, is the biggest benefit.”

Patrons at 401 Create have been busy during the last few days taking in activities associated with Creativity Week. Through the promotion, Crayola provides daily videos featuring creative celebrities who walk the viewers through different art projects. Volunteers work with the patrons on the projects and their new artwork is routinely displayed.


Thursday afternoon, Mitchell High School students were on hand to specifically help with the glazing of mugs and bowls project. It’s a chance for students to take their love of art out of the classroom and help put it in the hands of community members who like to learn, Shannon said.

“We do outreach whenever the students are available and interested, because they are busy kids,” Shannon said. “They step up and they go out into the community.”

Jennifer Haddon, director of 401 Create, which creates partnerships between community members and people with developmental disabilities, said the organization embraces as many opportunities that bring together volunteers and patrons as it can. The get-together Thursday in the organization’s studio space in downtown Mitchell was a great way to continue that tradition, she said.

It’s an arrangement that is a benefit to all involved, Haddon said. The students can bond with people, and in some cases, form friendships that continue after events like Creativity Week are over.

“It has a huge impact. It’s wonderful and it brings out creativity,” Haddon said. “We get to see the students bring their creativity in different ways of doing things, and it creates meaningful friendships. Sometimes (those students) will come back and volunteer in their own capacity.”

Welcoming new, engaging volunteers is also always a blessing, and this is one way to introduce new people to the joys of taking part.

“We’re always looking for new volunteers as our base keeps growing,” Haddon said. “So that’s awesome.”

Those same art ambassador students will bring that creative flare to the Mitchell Public Library Saturday, Jan. 28. There, the students, along with a handful of elder art enthusiasts, will interact with children of all ages on a wide range of art projects and activities.


Jean Patrick, children’s services director at the Mitchell Public Library, said there should be something at the Saturday event to pique almost anyone’s interest in an art project.

MHS freshman Areli Castillo cleans off the bottom of a freshly glazed mug during a collaborative workshop with Mitchell High School art ambassadors and 401 Create on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, at 401 Create.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

“We’re so excited,” Patrick said. “It will feature open-ended art activities, and we have all sorts of things coming in the door everyday from the UPS man. The kids are going to get to explore and experiment with a wide variety of materials, including (Shannon) and her students helping.”

In addition to the art ambassador students, area artists and art enthusiasts Ron Thorsen, Danna Kolbeck and Laney Titze will be on hand to help guide children through a number of different styles of art projects that include creating art with Sharpie pens, watercolor bookmarks, foil art, paper-cutting, gel crayons, paint and clay.

The Creativity Week activities dovetail nicely into the library’s ongoing children’s Creative Makerspace program, Patrick said, and help open up young minds to thinking artistically and creatively. Those are traits that can benefit an individual even if they don’t pursue art as a career or even a hobby.

“It’s all about learning to problem solve and learning things in new ways with out-of-the-box thinking. That is of value to everybody,” Patrick said. “I tell kids that they’re going to exercise their creativity muscles, and the more you do it and practice, the easier it comes.”

The Saturday event at the library is free and open to students of all ages, Patrick said, with the only general rule being that all participating children be accompanied by a parent or caregiver. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and Patrick hopes to use every minute of it to inspire youngsters who may be curious about art.

Having older students and artists to help with the project gives the younger participants an example to follow, but the kids will be drawing the actual creativity from within themselves. It’s important that they are the authors of their own art, Patrick said.

“It’s great for people to have someone a little older to look up to and people who have been through (the creative process before),” Patrick said. “So they’ll be nudging the kids along, but of course the kids will be in charge of their own art.”


Shannon said she is happy to see the collaboration between the students and organizations like 401 Create and the Mitchell Public Library has blossomed. They will get a chance to bring their love of art to a younger generation, and hopefully members of that younger generation will find an artistic voice of their own.

“These kids are great kids and up for the challenge. They enjoy sharing the arts with other people and the idea of being creative and what it means,” Shannon said. “They want to share with other people.”

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
What To Read Next
Get Local