‘Junior Warriors’ return to campus following a break due to COVID pandemic

Charles Henderson 5th graders returned to campus this fall for the IAC's Junior Warriors program.

Charles Henderson 5th graders returned to campus this fall for the IAC's Junior Warriors program.

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, Troy Elementary School fifth graders returned to campus exploring art and learning about various cultures at the International Arts Center.

The Junior Warriors program started two years ago as a way to introduce kids from around the county to the University and Arts Center.

“They would come to the IAC and tour and work an art workshop with our art education students leading the workshop,” IAC Director and Curator Carrie Jaxon said.

The junior warriors take tours around the Confucius Institute on the first floor of John Robert Lewis Hall before making their way across the street to take tours of the galleries.

The name of the program comes from the University bridging gaps between the East and the West.

“It’s a playoff of the Trojan identity,” Jaxon said. “Every kid that comes in here, we want them to know that whatever they set their mind to, they can do it.

“We created our workshop to empower them and to give them an opportunity to create.”

Aside from introducing students to galleries and new art forms, the program has three points within its mission.

The first is to introduce them to the University.

“It’s a community outreach to provide them with a positive experience on campus with university employees and university students,” Jaxon said.

The second is to introduce them to art outside of a classroom setting.

“It’s to get them to get them in the actual art space with the actual art and have conversations about it,” Jaxon added. “This could be a resource for these students to have in our community.”

The third is to provide them with a multicultural experience.

“They’re visiting the Terracotta Warriors and they’re seeing different art by different people of different backgrounds,” Jaxon said. “Looking at the Confucius institute, they’re getting to meet Chinese scholars and see Chinese art and customs.”

Because of the pandemic, the program came to a halt. This year, the workshop is open to 6th and 7th graders who missed out on the opportunity.

Over 100 students who weren’t able to tour the center over the past two years will visit campus in the spring.

But not only the children are learning. Jaxon said it’s a learning experience for the center as well.

“Everybody involved is benefiting from it,” Jaxon said. “It always points out things we’ve never thought of or never noticed.

“Education students also get professional experience. They conduct the workshops and become multifaceted.”

This year’s program is also being funded by a grant through the Alabama State Council on the Arts, which, according to Jaxon, has made the entire program possible.

“We hope that they continue to build upon this experience and keep creating and keep learning about different cultures,” Jaxon concluded.

Jaxon said the IAC hopes to open the program to more schools in the future.

Visit our photo gallery to see more photos at troy.edu/photo.