Artist Natalie Burwell Ray leads an in-school art camp at Boyd Elementary School.

Written by Courtney Ingle

When a child is in public school, the goal is a well-rounded education. This goes beyond math, reading and history. Emotional expression, critical thinking and social skills are also taught through music and art classes.

Due to budget cuts, art isn’t part of the program at Boyd Elementary School. Fondren Renaissance Foundation is working to change that through art camps.

“We’ve been in a partnership with Boyd School off and on for a number of years,” said Jim Wilkirson, executive director of FRF, the neighborhood organization that works for preservation, arts and education, and community partnerships in Fondren.

Wilkirson said a new staff at the school has brought about a new hunger for the art camps. “There’s new vibrancy with a new principal and staff,” said Wilkirson. “At Boyd, they have no art classes or instruction. There’s music, but not art.”

The FRF art camps offer a 4th-grade art experience by bringing in art instructors for a week for students to observe and engage in art lessons.

“The arts, as a general expression,” said Wilkirson, “are very important to give to any student the diversity they need.”

Wilkirson said he’s noticed a pattern with the camps. The children who are often struggling or disruptive during class are the ones that thrive.

“It never fails by the end of this art experience, those are the kids that are engrossed the most.” Wilkirson said. “It could be that they are bored or don’t have that outlet in their classroom – they can express themselves through the arts.”

The foundation hopes to work with the new staff at Boyd to expand the art camps, as well as provide other enhancements for other grades, such as providing reading materials for 5th graders using the summer reading list.

Aside from the art camps, FRF also awards music scholarships each year to Fondren students. Last year, Spann Elementary student Ivy Green won the scholarship to Patrick Harkins’ Fondren School of Music, where she is learning to play piano.

For information on how you can help the Fondren Renaissance Foundation support children in the community, visit To contribute to their Boyd playground fundraising drive, visit

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