‘Parade of Artists’ program continues mission to bring art lessons to Mt. Laurel Schools

Volunteers can learn about art and then share those lessons with Mt. Laurel elementary school students.

Carole Cills, a volunteer with the Parade of Artists program, visits with first-grade students last school year in Alexandra Barilotti’s art classroom at Mt. Laurel’s Larchmont Elementary School.

Parades come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes.

There’s Thanksgiving Day parades, ticker-tape parades, military parades or even flower parades.

Yet in Mt. Laurel, there’s one parade that returns year after year — except this parade doesn’t involve any marching or floats.

It’s the “Parade of Artists,” a program that allows dedicated volunteers to meet for several months at the start of every school year in Mt. Laurel to study art history and prepare presentations featuring various pieces of well-known art.

Then, in the second half of the school year, those same volunteers get the chance to take those presentations and share them with students inside the classrooms of Mt. Laurel’s elementary schools.

Presentations usually last anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes, with volunteers each choosing the classes and art they wish to present based on the abilities and interests of each individual volunteer.

As described by the Mt. Laurel Schools website, the Parade of Artists program is a volunteer program for “art lovers of all ages” with no experience or background in the study of art required to participate.

“Anyone from 19 to 99 who would enjoy teaching Mt. Laurel first- through fourth-grade students an appreciation for fine art is warmly welcomed to Parade of Artists,” reads the district’s website.

Those sentiments are echoed by retired Larchmont Elementary School art teacher Diane Canzanese, now herself a volunteer with the Parade of Artists program.

Canzanese has had the opportunity to observe the program from the point of view of a teacher and now a volunteer.

“It really is a nice experience,” Canzanese said. “I had the volunteer groups coming into my rooms for those years and I appreciated what they did, because they did such a fine job with the program.”

Canzanese also emphasized that while some volunteers already have a connection to the study of art before joining the program, it’s not a requirement for new volunteers.

“This is just a common interest among good-hearted people who want to volunteer and give back to the community,” Canzanese said. “When these volunteers were coming into my rooms I had a lot of respect for them because they did a nice job.”

Meetings for volunteers for the Parade of Artists program will be held on select dates, usually two to three times a month, from now through the end of January.

Then, starting in February and lasting until April, volunteers will share their lessons with Mt. Laurel’s students on select dates at the district’s elementary schools.

The group is scheduled to next meet on Sept. 27.

For specific dates, times, meeting locations, contact (856) 439–1410. For additional information on the program, visit the Mt. Laurel Schools website at www.mtlaurelschools.org.