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Mesquite Week Visits

May 13, 2010

For the past two weeks, we have been welcoming 5th graders from Mesquite ISD for docent-guided visits.  This isn’t a new program, though.  For the past twenty-five years, students from Mesquite ISD have been coming to the DMA for docent-guided visits of our collection.  When this partnership began in 1985, each 5th and 6th grade student received a tour that aligned with their classroom curriculum.  Over 2,100 Mesquite students toured the DMA that first year.  Since then, this partnership (and the district) have continued to grow.

Today, we see every 5th and 6th grade student, as well as every 7th and 8th grade art student, for a docent-guided visit that aligns with their curriculum.  For the 2009-2010 school year, that totals almost 6,800 students!  This partnership is affectionately known as Mesquite Week because in 1985 the visits did only last for one week.  It now takes five weeks for the Museum to be able to tour that many students. 

DMA Docent Susan Cuellar talks about The Icebergs with 5th graders from J.H. Florence Elementary

Mesquite ISD has a wonderful Fine Arts Coordinator, Debi Waltz, who makes these visits a success year after year.  Debi schedules each school’s visit, orders the buses, and works with us to decide which works of art students will see while they’re at the Museum.  She’s one of the most organized people I have ever met, and I don’t think Mesquite Week could happen without her. 

I recently learned that it was one of our docents, Susan Cuellar, who took on the task of coordinating Mesquite Week visits in 1985.  The district wanted students to have the same types of experiences with art that they were having with music, and they decided that they wanted their students to visit the DMA each year.  Susan wrote the tour outlines for that first year, and she continues to give Mesquite Week tours today.  She says that starting the Mesquite Week program is “one of the most exciting things I have ever done.”  We’re excited that this program is still going strong twenty-five years later.

Shannon Karol
Tour Coordinator

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