LONGMONT — When students go on a field trip to a museum, they are oft-reminded by teachers and museum staff to “Do Not Touch.”
But this past November, a photography exhibit in Denver so touched some Longmont students, they arranged to show their own exhibit titled “Longmont Through the Eyes of Youth,” which opens this week.
“It’s challenging to be a photographer,” said Sunset Middle School seventh-grader Victor Lazaro. “It’s hard. I have respect now for people who take pictures for a living.”
The project was developed by the L-Town Unity Program, the city’s collaborative effort among three after-school programs — The Place at Longs Peak Middle School, The Breakdown and The Zone.
The goal of L-Town Unity, formed in August, is to provide its students with opportunities “to promote the development and attainment of lifelong skills, leading to physical, social, cultural, emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual well-being,” according to its mission statement.
Program leader Brian Felse said L-Town Unity was created to dispel misconceptions about after-school programs.
“After-school programs were getting a bad name and being associated with at-risk youth...that we cater to gang-related folks. But that’s not the case,” he said.
The three after-school programs are for any student, Felse said. Collectively about 400 students are enrolled.
In November, some L-Town Unity students visited “Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs” exhibit last fall at the Colorado History Museum in Denver.
All trips and supplies are funded through city grants, Felse said.
The Denver field trip was a catalyst for a photography exhibit, which features 31 photographs of how the students define Longmont: statues and stop signs, silhouettes and sunsets, storefronts and bike spokes.
A dozen students, ages 12 to 17, were given 35-mm cameras, the advice of guest speakers and two months to learn the differences between what makes a snapshot and what makes a photograph.
Victor, 12, has three photographs in the exhibit.
“You have to think of certain angles, the light, what’s in the foreground and background,” he said.
Felse said students, through L-Town Unity, were learning the deeper meaning of teamwork, perspective and creativity.
“We wanted the after-school programs to be about doing something positive, for (the students) and their community,” Felse said. “It’s not just a place where kids come to hang out.”
If you go
What: “Longmont Through the Eyes of Youth”
When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday
Where: Old Firehouse Art Center, 667 Fourth Ave.
Info: Admission is free. The public can meet the student photographers at the gallery Friday.
Melanie M. Sidwell can be reached at 303-684-5274, or by e-mail at email@example.com.