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SRHS students display their best work

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By Mike Forster

    One often reads about the exploits of high school athletes.

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    One can’t help but notice the academic achievements of high schoolers when the honor rolls are published.
    Last week, folks got a chance to see high schoolers excel in another area:  that of the fine arts.
    Staunton River’s library was chock-full of gorgeous pieces of artwork, all of it turned out by its 200+ arts students.
    The nearly 500 pieces of art were on display covering nearly every horizontal surface in the library.
    Students filed through, admiring different pieces, each voting for what they saw as the best in show and the best overall artist.
    They saw sketches and paintings, clays and post-moderns, abstracts and dead-on ringers.  There were pictures created from words, literally.
    In short, if you could imagine it, some Staunton River art student had created it.
    Many of the artists who had their works on display seemed to beam with pride.
    The art show is in its 23rd year.  It was started by Susan Hubble in her first year teaching art at Staunton River.
    Hubble is still teaching aspiring River artists, along with Joe Curcio.
    The show gives the students a means by which to showcase their abilities.  “Prior to (having the art shows) the teachers didn’t know what the students were capable of,” noted Hubble.
    “It gives the students pride in their work,” added Curcio.  “They want it to be shown.”
    Brandie Gray and Lydia Johnson are two such students.  Both are seniors, and both had numerous pieces on display at the show.
    Gray, who will study at Hollins in the fall, and Johnson, who will matriculate at Western, specialize in different areas of art.
    Gray is a 3-D art aficionado, producing sculptures, facemasks and figurines.
    Johnson is focused on monochromatics, pencils and pastels.
    Both are strong advocates for arts in our schools.  “Staunton River has helped me immensely,” said Gray.  “Art has made going to school very enjoyable.”
    
    “When someone says, ‘I just voted for your piece,’ it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something,” added Johnson.
    Kelly Tomlin and Gabi Pendleton are another couple of aspiring artists who proudly wear the black and gold of Staunton River.
    While Tomlin works mostly in graphite, Pendleton specializes in chalk pastels.  Each of the seniors is enrolled in four distinct art classes, taking advantage of the flexibility that their senior year affords them.
    “It makes me feel proud just letting everyone look at (my artwork),” said Pendleton.
    On a more practical note, Tomlin said, “Since it’s our senior year, this is what we showed our colleges (as part of the application process).”
    Tomlin added, “Still, it’s good to be recognized.”
    Both students discussed how their teachers have pushed them, providing ideas on how to improve their work.
    Isn’t that counter to the idea of giving meaningless platitudes for mediocre work?  Why not just settle for good?
    “I’d much rather it be better, because I want to be better as an artist,” said Tomlin.  “(Hubble’s) tips help us to stand out.”
    Formal recognition will come this Thursday evening, after the votes have been tallied.
    That’s when the Best in Show and Best Artist awards will be bestowed on some very worthy individuals.  That recognition will come as part of Staunton River High’s Awards Night.
    “This is the grand finale,” said Hubble.”
    And what artist doesn’t want one of those?