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Charleroi Area teacher champions the arts

| Friday, March 28, 2014, 12:36 a.m.

The success Charleroi Area High School students had in the Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards competition – and the quality of their work – shows the importance of fine arts programs, teacher Patrick Camut contends.

“We submitted 53 works for the contest and received some sort of recognition on over half of them,” Camut said. “I think this competition shows the arts are very much alive and very strong here at Charleroi.”

The first-year teacher said the opportunity to work in his hometown is “amazing.”

“I'm passionate about this area. I'd love for it to have an (art) reputation here,” Camut said. “I believe there's a lot of good in this area, and we need to focus more on that instead of things that don't allow us to grow as a community.”

Camut said it's discouraging to see that some art and music courses have been cut or downsized as school districts across the region slashed budgets.

“I understand you have to make ends meet,” Camut said. “We have a fantastic music program that receives a ton of recognition here at Charleroi.

“We've obviously won awards with creative writing. ... Having the arts in schools gives students the opportunity to look at different subjects through a different window.

“We use math, we use science, we use English ... contemporary art isn't just about painting and drawing anymore. It's about sculpting, building, engineering.”

Camut said people must get past the stereotype that art is just fingerpaint and watercolor and realize that needed careers are filled by artists.

“A world without art would be a very dull and boring world,” he said. “We, as people, live for art. We live for beautiful and creative things.”Camut's students say they draw inspiration from him.

“Working with him is fantastic and remarkable,” junior Lyssa Current said. “He's given me the confidence to execute the ideas I've had. He's brought nothing but enthusiasm and inspiration and has shown interest in any idea that I've presented to him.”

Current said she derives more pleasure from making art than any other activity.

“It inspires me and makes me feel fulfilled,” she said.

One of the most important things, Camut said, is never saying no to a stuby dent's ideas.

“It's a fantastic feeling to see the students succeed,” Camut said.

“Teaching is a job that people do for the feeling you get when you see your students thrive. Moments like seeing them receive recognition in the Scholastic Awards makes all the hard work worth it.”

Camut, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania fine arts graduate, credits his mentor at Charleroi Area.

“(Sandy) Boyles was a fantastic art teacher that I had here,” he said. “She helped build what the art program is here.

“The Scholastic competition is the first competition that I got to show my own artwork outside of the classroom.”

Camut said his work was sent to New York, but “ didn't win.”

“Just having that experience, though, gave me the motivation to continue making and showing art and helped me prepare the students for their works they were entering,” Camut said of his Charleroi Area artists.

Acting Superintendent Reid Smith and the school board recognized Camut and the regional award winners at a February meeting.

“The one thing Patrick has done is really get kids interested in the arts,” Smith said. “His enthusiasm is infectious. He knows how to work with students and gets them involved.

“He continues to bring great recognition to the students and the art program and has brought new, modern methods with him to Charleroi.

“He's definitely an asset for the district.”

Smith said Camut's ability to relate to students allows the young educator to shine as an art teacher.

“You have to be intuitive to the creative mind,” Camut said of assisting students. “You have to help them tap in and pull the ideas out without doing it for them.

“So many times when people say they want to move towards the arts for a career, people have the stereotype of the starving artist. But there's about a million careers out there that people in the arts need to fill.”

Camut's father, Theo Camut, is an artist, a graphic designer.

“There's so many career choices that if someone has a true passion and a dream to go into the arts, we can't deny that,” Camut said. “Let people follow their dreams and let them be happy. We can't do that if the classes disappear.”

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jsellew@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

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