Growing with the Program: ARTstART Veterans Take a Bow


Project ARTstART, CMA’s students-teaching-students arts education program, is in its eighth year of operation serving Claremont’s students. Many students have participated for more than one year, building their presentation, teaching and leadership skills. With graduation 2018, we said goodbye to two longtime participants, Madeline Helland, one of the original ARTstARTers from 2011-2012, and Xiucoatl Mejia, one of the original ARToon middle-school students who served with distinction in Project ARTstART for four years. Melissa Lach, a graduate of our program is a member of the Project ARTstART team now that she has completed her teaching degree.

Madeline Helland in 2013

Madeline Helland, who graduated from Scripps College in May, is an ARTstART veteran, holding multiples roles in the program over the years. She started as a sophomore at CHS and finished as a paid intern mentoring students: “During ARTstART’s inaugural year, I participated in it as one of the first high school student members. Eight years later, I am concluding my final year as a Project Assistant Lincoln Scholar, interning for the program. What initially drew me to ARTstART was the emphasis it placed on learning about local artists and the local arts community and its mission to offer arts education to schools where it had been weakened or eliminated by budget cuts. The program has continued to evolve over the years, serving its students in new ways. While I have loved developing creative art-making projects, visiting museums, and working with students each week, the program’s ongoing impact in the community and its ability to adapt to change is what has kept me involved for so long.”

Xiucoatl Mejia in 2018

Xiucoatl Mejia, who graduated from Claremont High School in June 2018, shared that “ARTstART has been an overall beautiful opportunity that I was blessed to experience here in Claremont. It showed me many fundamental and creative ways to actively participate and make change in my community.  I am thankful for the many ways ARTstART allowed us to connect to Claremont youth, as well as our own peers. I had experienced ARTstART lessons first-hand when I participated in the ARToon program at El Roble Middle School and was personally inspired. Being an ARTstARTer at CHS for all 4 years has been a huge part of my decision to continue my art career and teaching in college, and I am forever thankful for that. I hope to be involved with ARTstART in the future as a college student and be able to have a part in the team once again.”

Melissa Lach: “I started working with ARTstART in 2011 during my sophomore year at CHS. I loved having the opportunity to work with friends, peers, mentors, and children. After graduating high school, I attended the University of La Verne to study education and fine arts. Now that I have my B.A., I am so excited to return to work with ARTstART this upcoming school year as a Project Associate, mentoring high school students and leading our AfterARTs and ARTStation workshop series!”

Melissa Lach in 2018

As in the past, ARTstART trained high school students, working with college mentors, provided exhibit-based art lessons and field trip experiences to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students from Mountain View, Oakmont, Sumner, Sycamore and Vista del Valle elementary schools. In addition, ARTstARTers led students enrolled in all seven CUSD elementary BLAST or ACES after-school programs in art-making activities that produced more than 900 student art projects as part of the AfterARTs series. Hundreds more were served with drop-in art-making at Village Venture, the Padua Hills Art Fiesta, and the CicLaVia Earth Day celebrations, in addition to the monthly ARTStation series at CMA’s Depot location.

CMA wishes to thank its dedicated ARTstART volunteers, stakeholders, and supporters for another noteworthy year. Project ARTstART is produced solely by the Claremont Museum of Art in partnership with the Claremont Unified School District (CUSD). The program is funded by generous donations from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Claremont Lincoln University; the Spearman Charitable Foundation; the Claremont Educational Foundation Partnership Grant (CEF); the City of Claremont Community-Based Organization (CBO) grant; Kiwanis Club of Claremont; Scripps College Fine Arts Foundation; as well as Board members and many dedicated community donors.

–Rich Deely, Project ARTstART Director