FALLS CITY — Christopher Scadden wants the students in his acting class to let their anger show.
Not that they are mad at anything specific.
You can help
FACES is looking for ideas and volunteer instructors for classes. For more information or to volunteer: 503-787-3521, ext. 2101.
“I’m going to just ask you the question and I want you to think about in your mind,” he said. “Don’t tell me out loud. What is something that would make you angry? Just think about it.”
Scadden teaches an acting class at Falls City Elementary School, part of the Family Academics Community and Enrichment for Success (FACES) after-school program.
He let the question simmer in their minds and then asked them to start acting angry.
“Start letting it show in your face, in your body,” he said.
Each student’s expression of anger was different, from clenched fists to icy glares.
Scadden said thinking about something that makes you feel angry — or other emotions — is a good way to get into character.
“If you are doing a play, you have to turn that on,” he said.
Bethany Cornutt, the FACES educational assistant and site coordinator, said students are excited about theater class, which came about through an unexpected connection.
Scadden works for Polk County Oregon State University Extension as a Family & Community Health Program assistant. He attends Falls City’s Service Integration Team,” or SIT, a group of local service providers that get together monthly in meetings organized through Polk County’s Family & Community Outreach.
He also has an interest in theater and volunteered to share it with students in the program.
“We’ve had a lot of kids be very excited about that because it’s new,” Cornutt said. “It’s somebody outside who they have on a regular basis. They really enjoy new faces.”
FACES, now in its 10th year, serves a high percentage of the district’s students through its homework help, academic interventions and enrichment classes. It depends on community support to offer a variety of learning opportunities to students, Cornutt said.
This term, FACES classes include theater, Minecraft, art and relaxation, and “fix it,” a class that has elementary students learning how to repair things like wobbly desks and crooked counters around the district. Some of the classes are led by district staff, but others, like theater and fix it, are offered by volunteers.
With budget priorities at the federal level changing, program leaders say FACES future funding is uncertain.
“The community really depends on this program, kids really thrive in this program,” said Lynn Bailey, FACES sustainability coordinator. “Moving forward we are really going to be asking for that community support. … It’s a little bit of a scary time. We don’t know what is going to happen.”
FACES operates on a five-year 21st Century Learning Center grant, a federal program supporting out-of-school educational activities in districts with high-poverty schools. This year is the last year of the grant, which means the district received 50 percent of what it was given in the first three years.
FACES pursued other grants and support to keep the program going without cuts. Bailey said grants from the Oregon Community Foundation and Ford Family Foundation helped backfill the budget.
Initially, 21st Century grants were cut out of the federal budget in the new administration’s funding proposal. FACES Director Amy Houghtaling said that had changed since, but she isn’t certain of the level of funding that will be available. Houghtaling said she’ll know more in a few weeks after the grant “request for proposals” is announced.
“I’m under the impression we are going to have it,” she said, noting that it’s possible less money will be available, making the grant more competitive.
As a counter measure, the FACES team began thinking ahead last year to plan for the unknown.
The program formed a “sustainability committee” with representatives from Maps Credit Union, Community Service Consortium, Polk County, and Willamette Education Service District’s Center for Education, Innovation, Evaluation, and Research to come up with funding ideas.
FACES asked for sponsorships for its most popular class, roller coaster physics, that caps the year with a trip to an amusement park. That effort, plus student fundraising, was a success, Houghtaling said.
Bailey’s grant writing landed the program money to offer driver’s education from the Siletz Tribe, a work-experience class from the Polk County Economic Development Program and classes geared toward middle school students from the Oregon Community Foundation and Ford Foundation.
Cornutt said the larger Ford Foundation grant made it possible to keep Friday field trips, giving students something to do when not in class.
“We have all sorts of good things coming together, staying together,” Houghtaling said. “We are running out of staff members to teach everything.”