Media Arts in the Public Schools, aka the MAPS Media Institute, is hosting a community open house 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, as they gear up for year 14.

“Everyone is welcome,” said Clare Ann Harff, executive director. “Come meet the MAPS staff, instructors. Check out the studios, including our new Apple and PC computers and learn more about our excellent programming.”

MAPS Media Institute’s free-of-charge after-school classes begin Monday, Sept. 18.

MAPS staff presents a rigorous, hands-on program to teach a love of learning, and build self-confidence and life skills. The program offers students the opportunity to learn critical thinking, innovation, communication, teamwork, problem solving and leadership.

The classes are related to the film industry in the areas of design, film, music, technology and entrepreneurship.

This year MAPS will continue to have Sarah Jones with AmeriCorps VISTA, developing “MAPS Works: Connecting Community Through Media Arts.”

Harff said the MAPS programs just completed an eight-minute mini-documentary about after-school programs in Montana.

“We just wrapped up this four-month project documenting the importance of after-school programs, especially in rural areas,” she said. “This is the largest project our team has ever wrangled. We are also creating a 30-second commercial for the Montana Afterschool Alliance as part of this project.”

More than 20 MAPS students assisted in the production and editing of the “After School Programs” project that began last March. Film Instructor Dru Carr directed students as they documented stories in Boulder, Butte, Hot Springs and in Harlem on the Fort Betknap Reservations.

“Montana's after-school programs are gems,” Harff said. “This short film highlights some of these outstanding programs, and explains how after-school programs enhance a student's whole education, as well as nourishes entire communities.”

After-school programs around Montana benefit from the federal 21st Century program funding, administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Keeping these funds coming into the state ensures that Montana's after-school programs remain strong and vibrant,” Harff said.

For more information, visit mapsmediainstitute.com or stop in at local high school offices for an application. MAPS is located at 515 Madison in Hamilton. Call Clare Ann Harff at 406-381-7230 for directions or more information.

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