Bigger Sky Kids adds track for high school mentors
Quiarrah with Cat
September 2021 — Bigger Sky Kids is pleased to announce that Quiarrah Rios will serve as a student mentor in 2021–22. Quiarrah, a freshman who began taking B!SK’s studio art class in 2018 as a sixth grader, is among the first group of students to graduate out of its program. She will assist Cathryn McIntyre in art class on Wednesdays and oversee the art studio on Tuesdays, when McIntyre is not in residence.
In 2019 and 2020, Bigger Sky Kids’ expanded its reach to include seventh and eighth graders. The mentor track is designed to extend that reach even further, allowing teens who are entering high school to continue taking specialized classes. In exchange, mentors agree to put the expertise they have acquired to work for their younger peers.
The mentor program substantially increases both the quantity and quality of time available for children to work on their art projects, while at the same time helping mentors gain experience and confidence, working with and collaborating with others.
Student artists exhibit work at Doc’Z and Art‑in‑the‑Park
July 2021 — On June 27, Doc’Z gallery in Wolf Point hung an exhibit of artwork, including oil and watercolor paintings, by students studying art with Cathryn McIntyre, Bigger Sky Kids’ artist-in-community. The exhibit, which was in place during Wolf Point’s Wild Horse Stampede, drew a large number of viewers. Bigger Sky Kids hosted a reception, on July 8, for family and friends to celebrate the achievements of these talented artists.
Featured were artworks by Ali Corpron, Dana Buckles, Dante Dionne, Emma Kawasaki, Jeina Reum, Kaleah White Bear, Quiarrah Rios, Tanna Guldborg and Thomas Moudree. The exhibit was transferred to Sherman Park on Main Street on July 10 for the day-long Art-in-the-Park event. Following that, it was reinstalled at Doc’Z, where it remained through the first week in August.
Bigger Sky Kids receives grant from the DPW Foundation
Studio art class
February 2021 — Bigger Sky Kids has been awarded a $23,550 grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation. It will fully fund Cathryn McIntyre’s class in studio art for the next three years. The class, which focuses on painting in oil and watercolor, has become a mainstay of Bigger Sky Kid’s visual arts program.
McIntyre joined B!SK in fall 2018 on a grant from the MT Arts Council. Subsequent support (see stories below) brought her back for an average of twenty classes per academic year through spring 2021. The Washington grant will fund thirty classes a year over its three-year term, starting in fall 2021 and continuing through 2024.
MDU Foundation awards matching funds for class in Nakoda dance
Wayne Eagle Boy
January 2021 — Bigger Sky Kids has been awarded a grant from the MDU Resources Foundation in support of its class on Nakoda dance, stories and their history. The Montana Dakota Utilities award matches the Montana Arts Council grant of July 2020 which funded 50% of the project cost.
The dance class, taught by Winona Runsabove of Frazer, will introduce students to the steps for traditional Nakoda dances, with a goal of mastering at least two of them. She will also share the story and protocols and recount the history of each dance as she introduces them. Runsabove will be assisted by dancer Wayne Eagle Boy, a senior at Wolf Point High School
This is the second MDU grant in support of Bigger Sky Kids’ artists-in-residence. In 2020, MDU matched an Arts Council grant for Cathryn McIntyre’s class in studio art.
MT Arts Council grant adds more sessions to studio art class
December 2020 —Bigger Sky Kids has received a Montana Arts Council artist-in-community grant for 2021, in support of Cathryn Reitler McIntyre. McIntyre joined Bigger Sky Kids in fall 2018, on an initial grant from the Arts Council for ten classes in studio art. That effort was so successful, a donation from a private donor brought her back in spring 2019 for an additional six classes.
With a second grant from the Arts Council and matching funds from Montana Dakota Utilities, McIntyre returned to teach thirty classes in the 2019–2020 academic year. The class, which was suspended in March 2020 after twenty-three sessions, resumed in January 2021, with strict Covid protocols in place. This new grant will add twelve more classes, ensuring at least nineteen sessions over the course of this year.
B!SK receives MT Arts Council grant for Nakoda dance class
Montana State University, Spring 2020
August 2020 —In the 2020–21 academic term, with support from the Montana Arts Council, Bigger Sky Kids will feature a class entitled Nakoda Dance, Stories and Their History. It will focus on several Native American fancy dances and the stories, protocols, and history that accompany them.
Winona Runsabove, an instructor for the Fort Peck Tribes Language and Culture Department, will serve as lead teacher. She will be assisted by Wayne Eagle Boy, a senior at Wolf Point High School, an experienced dancer who has won several awards as a fancy dancer.
This is Bigger Sky Kids’ third grant from the Montana Arts Council. Awards in 2018 and 2019 brought Cathryn McIntyre as artist-in-community (see related stories). McIntyre will return in next year to complete the course suspended on 16 March 2020, due to pandemic.
Bigger Sky Kids art exhibit at Roosevelt County Library
February 2020 — The exhibit at Roosevelt County Library of artwork produced in fall 2019 by students in Cathryn McIntyre’s class—Ali Corpron, Canté Grey Bull, Danté Dionne, Emma Kawasaki, Jeina Reum, Jessa Sandau, MacKiera Schindler, Mya Brownlee, Quiarrah Rios, and Tanna Guldborg—concluded on February 6 with a well-attended celebration. With support from the Montana Arts Council, Cathryn joined Bigger Sky Kids in fall 2018 as artist-in-community. A second MAC grant brought her back for the 2019-20 school term. Following the conclusion of Cathryn’s residency on April 30, students will exhibit their paintings from spring 2020.
Bigger Sky Kids receives grants from MDU and the Roosevelt County Community Foundation
Montana Dakota Utilities
January 2020 — Bigger Sky Kids was delighted to learn that Montana Dakota Utilities will provide the $3,900 match for the MT Arts Council grant in support of artist-in-community Cathryn McIntyre. B!SK recently celebrated an impressive exhibit of artworks created in fall 2019 by students in Cathryn’s class (see the story).
The very next day, Karen Jeide of the Roosevelt County Community Foundation confirmed that Bigger Sky Kids had been awarded a $955 via the MT Community Foundation. The grant, for the purchase of computer-related equipment, will be used to acquire a secure laptop storage unit and Microsoft pens. “Having the pens will be great,” according to volunteer Diane Bailey who teaches computer arts at B!SK. “We have nine laptops but only two pens. With seven more, we can add drawing and painting to the computer wizardry class. I’m sure the kids will love it!”
What's new in Fall 2019?
Bigger Sky Kids kicked off its 2019-2020 term on September 16. By the end of October, 72 children had registered. That nearly doubles registrations at the same time last year.
A big hit this fall are bright new kid-sized aprons sporting the B!SK logo. A shout out to Joann Heser, who did the embroidery, and to her cook colleagues Cindy Hanks, Vicki Hammond, Kiyo Ruhd and Connie Bridges.
Volunteer Andrew Tumonong, a newly arrived science teacher at Northside School, is leading a popular new dance class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
And we have acquired much-needed new equipment. A big thanks to a supporter who works at Microsoft for the in-kind donation of two Surface laptops, which in turn triggered matching funds from Microsoft that let us purchase two more. And a grant from the Wolf Point Community Organization covered the cost of four new Yamaha digital pianos for the music class. Thanks to volunteers Bridget Drummond and Diane Bailey, we are able to offer students access to those pianos and computers on days when those classes do not meet.
B!SK receives grants from local organizations
September 2019 — At the recommendation of the Advisory Donor Board of the Western Bank of Wolf Point Endowment Fund, Bigger Sky Kids has received a $9,000 grant from the Montana Community Foundation, a repeat grant in support of B!SK program coordinator. In 2018, B!SK was awarded $10,364. According to R. J. Doornek, a member of the fund’s Donor Advisory Board, “Repeat awards are not commonplace from our fund, but the first-year success of the B!SK program in meeting its goals and the guidelines of its mission statement was astounding. … Having the bank’s grantable funds used to continue B!SK’s accomplishments is a testament to the message of our own mission statement.”
October 2019 — Linda Weeks (left) presents Barbara Olson, B!SK’s Program Director, with a check for $3,000 from the Wolf Point Community Organization. The funds will be used to cover the costs of four digital pianos and for art supplies.
November 2019 — On behalf of the staff of the Wolf Point branch of First Community Bank, Thomas McPherson, Sandy Solheim, and Chelise Boysun presented Barbara Olson with a check for $500. The donation, in support of B!SK’s after-school program, come from the “jeans fund,” a kitty to which employees donate $2 every other week part of the bank’s casual dress policy.
B!SK fall 2019 program kicks off on September 16
September 2019 — Bigger Sky Kids will resume its after-school arts program on Monday, September 16. We welcome Wolf Point children from grades four through eight. The two-part program consists of (1) art exploration—a free-ranging, relaxed space that meets every session and lets students move between activities such as drawing, journaling, reading, crocheting, Legos and more—led by volunteers Bridget Drummond, Rhonda Mason, Barbara Olson, Tom Olsen, Pat Stennes and others, and (2) classes that teach specific skills. In addition to Cathryn’s painting class scheduled for Monday, the fall will kick off with classes in cooking & baking with Connie Bridges, Joann Heser, Cindy Hanks, Vicki Grendahl Hammond, Kiyo Ruhd and others (Tuesday), music with Cassandra Solberg and Kevin Barley (Thursday), and computer wizardry with Diane Bailey (Thursday). Families wishing to enroll their children must complete a registration form.
September 2019 — Bigger Sky Kids is pleased to welcome Otto Osen as its new program coordinator. He will take over from Rhonda Mason who is leaving the position to spend more time working one-on-one with the kids. She will teach crocheting in B!SK’s fall program.
Otto hails from Glasgow, Montana, where he worked for Trinity Technology Group as a Transportation Security Officer at Glasgow airport. In April 2019, he was promoted to Supervisory Transportation Security Officer at Wolf Point airport. Fortunately his schedule there dovetails well with Bigger Sky Kids’ after-school hours.
Otto has an Associate of Arts degree with emphasis on mathematics and the visual arts from the University of Montana. Along with abstract oil painting, his interests include gardening and cooking. Otto’s love of the arts was nurtured by his high school teacher Cathryn Reitler (McIntyre). Cathryn served as B!SK’s artist-in-community last year. On a grant from the Montana Arts Council, she is returning this year to teach a class entitled Studio Mastery for Beginning & Intermediate Artists.
B!SK receives Arts Council grant to bring Cathryn Reitler back in 2019–2020
June 2019 — Bigger Sky Kids has been awarded its second grant from the Montana Arts Council, a $3,900 one-to-one matching grant to bring Cathryn Reitler back as artist-in-community. During the 2018–2019 school term, also on a grant from the Arts Council, Cathryn taught a sixteen-week introduction to drawing and painting. The 2019–2020 class, Studio Mastery for Beginning & Intermediate Artists, will run for thirty weeks. It will focus on foundational studio skills and the uses for a variety of traditional art media—graphite, charcoal, chalk pastel, copic markers and oil paint.
Cathryn Reitler (McIntyre) from Glasgow, MT, is a working artist with a BFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and an MFA and secondary teaching certificate from the University of Montana. Her artworks can be seen at Wheatgrass Gallery in Glasgow, the Mondak Visitors Center in Sidney, and online at cathrynreitler.com.
B!SK student art on exhibit at Doc’Z
May 2019 — Cathryn McIntyre’s ten-week term as B!SK’s artist-in-community concluded with an exhibition at Roosevelt County Library on January 8, 2019. At that time, Cathryn said she would like to have extended the class to twelve or fifteen weeks to give students “additional time to demonstrate their skill in more independently driven projects, as they were on the cusp of doing.” She got her wish! A donor who was inspired by this program offered financial support to bring Cathryn back for another six weeks. Art created by students in winter 2019 is on exhibit at Doc’Z. Many thanks to the Montana Arts Council and our donor for making possible these rich learning experiences!
B!SK awarded grant from the Montana Community Foundation
Barbara Olson (center) with Western Bank officers R.J. Doornek (left) and Duane Kurokawa (right)
August 2018 — Bigger Sky Kids has been awarded a $10,334 grant by the Montana Community Foundation. The award comes at the recommendation of the Endowment Advisory Committee appointed by the Board of Directors of Western Bank of Wolf Point. “The committee supports the concept of using the diverse knowledge and talent of the adult mentors and role models of our community that are volunteering their time and effort to make this program a success,” says R. J. Doornek, bank chair. “We are pleased to help make the mission of Bigger Sky Kids a triumph.” Proceeds from the grant will be used in support of the position of program coordinator.
Rhonda Mason Program Coordinator for Bigger Sky Kids
B!SK Program Coordinator Rhonda Mason (left) with Program Committee Chair Barbara Olson (right)
August 2018 — Bigger Sky Kids is delighted to introduce Rhonda Mason as our new Program Coordinator. Many Wolf Pointers will know Rhonda and not a few will have witnessed her commitment to B!SK’s program. An award-winning teacher with a Master of Education degree from Montana State University, Rhonda taught history at Brockton High School. For more than two decades, she worked at Fort Peck Community College in Poplar. She was honored in 2000 as Montana Indian Education Association Teacher of the Year and, in 2006, she was chosen Fort Peck Community College Employee of the Year. Rhonda takes over from Gregory Holler-Dinsmore who stepped forward to help coordinate the program in Spring 2018.
Bigger Sky Kids receives grant from Montana Arts Council
July 2018 — Bigger Sky Kids is pleased to announce its first-ever special event. With support from an artist-in-community grant from the Montana Arts Council, B!SK will kick off its fall 2018 schedule with a special ten-week introduction to drawing and painting taught by guest artist Cathryn Reitler of Glasgow, Montana.
Reitler is a working artist with extensive experience teaching children. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree and an MA in secondary art education, both from the University of Montana, and has previously worked with the Montana Office of Public Instruction and with the Fort Peck Community College. Reitler will guide B!SK students in constructing a mixed-media work of art that combines an oil painting with an object or image of special meaning to the student.