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Virtual arts competition helped students channel their creativity during the COVID-19 school closures

The Riverside County Office of Education launched a
virtual student arts competition to help students channel their
creativity during the COVID-19 school closures. Students from TK–12 across Riverside County were allowed to participate. There were quite a few winners here in the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs Unified School District and Desert Sands Unified School District.

River Moll, Honorable mention in Poetry

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Ben Van Dijk is in 8th grade at Cielo Vista Charter. He won first place in the media arts category in week 5 of the contest. He said, "Different weeks they were doing different forms of arts. Like poems and theater and stuff. I was inspired to do a video." In his video, he speaks about the importance of childhood. He said, "First I kind of talk about how I am sad that my childhood is kind of coming to an end since I am going into high school and getting closer to becoming an adult." He talked about how meaningful this project was to him, he said, "This project did really come from my heart and it’s just something that really touches me and also my family." When the video gets towards the end, he explained, "And then, in the end, I kind of realize, you know, I think I am ready, and even if I move on, I can still always be a child. Like I can be a child in my spirit and stuff."

Video Ben Van Dijk made for Art Connects Media Arts

More than 1,300 students participated in the Art Connects contest. All the students were between kindergarten and 12th grade. On top of each week having a different medium of art, it also had a different theme of expression. Louisa Higgins is the arts administrator for the Riverside County Office of Education. She said, "It started out with expressions of change. Because that’s what everyone was dealing with like this is a huge change. Then, it went to possibility, to kindness, to persistence, to connections, and finally, we finished up with hope."

Another winner was River Moll. Moll is in kindergarten at Gerald Ford Elementary. He won third place in the media arts category. He also got an honorable mention in the dance and poetry category. Moll said the meaning in his poem was, "How I can’t make anymore friends again." For his video, he drew a person, cut it out, and took pictures along the way. He said the video was so he could make one more friend. Click HERE to see the video River Moll made for the media arts category of Art Connects.

Higgins added, "Young people have a lot to say and it was wonderful to see what our kids are thinking and how they’re feeling during this time."

For more on Art Connects and other winners from the contest, you can visit Riverside County Office of Education, Art Connects.

News Channel 3's Taban Sharifi talks with a couple of these winners about their projects and how it helped them during the COVID-19 school closures.

Kaiser recommends that those in the Coachella Valley who are elderly and have underlying health conditions, including individuals who are HIV positive, limit non-essential travel and avoid large public gatherings.

Health officials said anyone who thinks they might be experiencing symptoms of the virus and want to be seen at Eisenhower Health should call the hospital hotline first at 760-837-8988. Avoid the spread of this illness.
Residents with further questions can call 2-1-1 and 800–CDC –INFO (800 – 232 – 4636) with any questions.

Public health recommendations for all Riverside County residents during community spread:

Practice social distancing, which is remaining out of places where people meet or gather and avoid using public transportation, if possible.
Do not attend work, school or events when sick. Stay home.
Cough into your elbow or tissue.
Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer often.
Stay away from anyone who is sick.

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Taban Sharifi

Taban Sharifi is a Meteorologist and Reporter with KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News & Weather Leader. Learn more about Taban here.

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