The Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning’s School of the Arts is returning July 17 and to officially kick off the new summer session, the arts center will hold a reception on July 13 with an open house for potential students to meet the instructors and learn more about the six-week courses, which are available for all ages.

To adhere to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, JCAL, which is located at 161-04 Jamaica Ave., will have a handful of classes on its two floors at different time slots instead of its usual 35 to 40-course summer roster, according to Juan Salinas, the organization’s director of education. However, there is still plenty to learn in-person or virtually.

“We have chosen to bring back only a handful of classes,” said Carlos Salinas. “Every class that is occurring will be by itself on that floor.”

With vaccinations at an all time high and the coronavirus infection rate at an all time low, it will be at the discretion of people who are vaccinated if they want to wear their masks indoors, according to Salinas.

“Everything is totally spaced out, but if you are not vaccinated we are asking you to wear your mask indoors,” said the director. “We are being very safe. There will be plenty of sanitation materials around and extra gloves and masks. The building will not be crowded. There will be a staggered schedule that allows for flexibility between classes.”

JCAL’s dance classes were on the chopping block, but its ceramics course with Sana Musasama, its cartooning lessons with Alex Shapiro and its curriculum on the fundamentals of playing guitar with Julia Keefe will help budding artists develop their craft and people looking for a hobby stay occupied this summer with engaging instructors. Students will also get a crash course on drawing and painting with Anthony Carter and learn to play the piano with Karina Parker. Each course is $120.

Musasama is an expert in clay pottery and a world traveler who has developed her craft in Sierre Leone, Japan, China, Cambodia and South America. Her introductory clay classes will be held on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Shapiro, an illustrator and cartoonist, will help students create their own anime and manga creations on Saturdays. Also on Saturdays, Keefe, a jazz musician, will teach the basics of riffs, chords and more on the guitar. Carter, a seven-year veteran teacher at JCAL, will introduce students to watercolor, acrylic and tempera paintings on Saturdays. Parker, a multidisciplinary performing artist, will teach piano classes on Saturdays and virtual classes on Tuesdays. She will also teach voice lessons on Thursdays.

“As an educator there is no greater joy than having kids in your classroom,” said Carter. “I have been looking forward to this day, when we are able to welcome our young artists back into our physical space to provide them with meaningful experiences in art making.”

Parker will teach classes virtually and in-person, and is looking forward to seeing some of her students face-to-face again.

“We are really wanting to repay the favor,” said Parker. “We feel our community has been really supportive and wonderful. We can’t wait to offer these classes again and be a place where the community can come together safely and not only hone in some new skills, but explore and do some healing.”

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