Fine Arts Fest Showcases Work Of 800 Area Students

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BERLIN – Over 800 students participated in Worcester
County Public Schools’ annual Fine Arts Festival, held on April 25 at Pocomoke
High School.

The festival showcased over 500 art exhibits from students
at each of the school system’s 14 schools. The evening also featured
performances from elementary and middle school choruses, as well as
performances by the prestigious All County Chorus and All County Band.

Although the festival’s theme was “Celebrating the Arts,”
the Fine Arts Festival was truly a celebration of individual successes.

“The arts festival is a wonderful way to exhibit the many
talents of our students,” said Tamara Krauch, Pocomoke Middle School Art
Teacher and 2007 Worcester County Teacher of the Year, “but ultimately, the
festival provides an opportunity to celebrate individual successes.”

The steps leading to success may be very different for
each student.

“Some students may have natural talent and may reach
success with a single leap, while other students may reach success with a series
of smaller strides over time,” said Krauch. “Regardless of a student’s pace or
stride, each entry represents a unique story of success, and we celebrate them
all.”

While some school systems across Maryland and the country
are cutting back on the arts to extend state-testing preparation for students,
Worcester County Public Schools is advancing its initiative to expand the
integration of the arts into curriculum.

“We believe that student learning is enhanced when the
arts are infused into instruction because the arts add an important learning
dimension,” said Dr. Jon Andes, Superintendent of Schools. “The proverb: ‘I
hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand’ resonates in
education as we differentiate instruction to ensure that each child
learns.”      

Jonathan Powell, a sixth grader at Pocomoke Middle School,
was invited to showcase his Raku stoneware at the Arts Festival. Powell had
learned about the Japanese-inspired Raku art in his classroom. He also learned
about the effects of heat, fire, and smoke on clay and glaze, as well as the
formation of random patterns. To complete the lesson, Powell and his classmates
were able to make their own stoneware with the assistance of Krauch and clay
artist Ernie Satchell, Chair of UMES’ Fine Arts Department.

“First the clay was blue,” said Powell. “When it gets
fired, the heat turns the glaze different colors and makes it shiny. The
patterns are random so you never know how it is going to turn out.”

Powell will use his stoneware as a decorative piece, since
Raku-fired stoneware is typically not sealed and therefore, is not
food-friendly. Jonathan and his classmates will not forget this learning
experience.

“Studies have shown over and over again,” said Shirleen
Church, coordinator of Instruction for Fine Arts for the school system and
organizer of the festival, “that art has a powerful impact on student learning
and understanding, not just in art, but across all subjects.”

Church describes the arts as blending well with all
content areas, but the most important benefit of the arts in education is the
impact that the arts have on students.

“Art can provide an anchor for many students,” Church
said. “The success and passion students have for the arts can keep them engaged
in school, particularly when the arts are integrated in all subjects using the
arts immersion model. An engaged student is a student who is in school and
learning.”

 

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