New Carrollton library program helps children bring cartoons to life -- Gazette.Net


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Nine-year-old Anthony Hamm of Lanham loves to draw robots and superheroes, and on Monday, he found a way to make them come to life.

Anthony, along with about 12 of his peers, attended the New Carrollton library’s first cartoon animation class Monday, which is the only one of its kind offered through the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System.

Students ages 8 to 15 will meet once a week for three weeks to learn basic software and techniques used by animation companies like Pixar and Disney, said librarian Steve Barker, who organized the class.

Anthony said he was so excited about comics and animation that he missed the first half of his friend’s birthday party to attend the class.

“I thought this was more important because I can visit my friend anytime,” he said.

The free animation classes are led by George Kochell, who teaches a similar program through the nonprofit Greenbelt Association for the Visual Arts.

Barker said he heard about the Greenbelt class from a friend and thought it would be a good addition to New Carrollton’s lineup of computer classes. He said he was pleased with the interest in the three-week session, which was originally planned to hold nine students at maximum. Although students should attend the classes in succession to learn the most from them, Barker said he would like to offer another three-week session soon.

“We had a lot more [participants] than we counted on,” Barker said. “We’ll probably have another [class] in September.”

The New Carrollton class was funded by the Friends of the New Carrollton Library, who raise money through a used bookstore, Novel Endings, located on the bottom floor of the library, said Kathy Bevard of New Carrollton, a member of the organization. Bevard said the group paid Kochell $180 for the three-week class.

The library offers several other free classes in its computer lab, which holds about nine computers, including Computer Basics in Spanish and a Facebook for Seniors class, Barker said.

Anthony’s mother, Cathy Hamm of Lanham, said she home-schools her son and has been able to tailor his education to fit his interests through classes like the ones offered at the library.

“Most schools have art [once] a quarter and there’s only four quarters, so you get art three or four times. But a kid like this who loves art, it’s just not enough, so I home-school so he can get something more rounded,” Hamm said. “Between the [Greenbelt and New Carrollton] libraries, we’re able to do a lot of stuff I wanted him to do with home-school, and much of it is free.”

Anthony, who said he wants to be an astronaut and a cartoonist one day, said animation is difficult, but also rewarding.

“I know I can try and try, and then I’ll get better,” he said.

eeastman@gazette.net