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Young artists honored at ceremony

For several months now, young people in Demopolis have gathered at the Demopolis Children’s Arts Center to do everything from painting and dancing to tumbling.

Thursday night, the center held a special ceremony at the Demopolis Civic Center to recognize the hard work of both the students and instructors and to celebrate a successful start.

The building and programs have come a long way since Doug and Mary Saunders moved their center into the building that formerly housed Church Aflame.

When they came to Demopolis, Doug Saunders said, their mission was to give children a place to go for the arts. From the response they got, Saunders said, they are succeeding.

“This gives our kids something to do other than hunt and fish,” Saunders said. “We felt like this something we could offer the community and we appreciate everyone’s support in helping us get that done.”

Saunders wife Mary said the most rewarding part of all was seeing smiles on the faces of the children who participate.

“I am really excited to see all the kids so excited,” Mary said. “The main reason we are here tonight is to recognize these children that have worked so hard all year.”

Mary’s excitement hit its peak when they introduced two very special students. Along with the numerous awards handed out for art, dancing and tumbling, two students were honored as artists of the year. This year, the honor went to Emmy Cameron and Zachary Hensley.

These two, Saunders said, were an asset to the center in many capacities.

“These two guys did amazing things all year and participated in lots of visual arts classes,” Mary said. “They were so good in so many different ways and very helpful to their classmates.”

The students weren’t the only ones bursting with pride when the awards were handed out. The instructors were also beaming.

Pam McAlpine, head of the visual arts department, was eager to show how versatile the students were.

“As you can see,” McAlpine said pointing to the children’s art decorating the wall, “we have the contemporary arts. We have water color and oils and we have some of our pottery.”

Ashley Fuller, the dance instructor, was grateful for the opportunity to do what she loves and the positive attitudes she encountered.

“You have wonderful children in Demopolis,” Fuller said. “I am from Grove Hill, so I had no idea what I was getting into when I came to Demopolis. But, it has been a great experience.”

The same applied for tumbling classes. Leretta Garrett, who oversaw this aspect of the center, said she never dreamed the interest would be so high.

“We started our classes in November and I never expected the kind of response we had,” Garrett said. “Within the first day, we had every class full and had waiting list. It has been very exciting.”

The Saunders’ and the other instructors at the center have no intentions of letting this interest slide. The summer schedule is solid with pottery camp the first weekend of June and painting camp at the end of the summer. Nine other camps are planned in between.

For more information on this summer’s programs, call the center at (334) 289-9848.