The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

MISD Fine Arts Showcase Spotlights Artists and Performers’ Accomplishments

Brooks Kahsai
IMS and MIHS Band performs during the second night of Showcase.

MISD held its annual Fine Arts Showcase March 28 and 29, highlighting districtwide student achievements in both visual and performing arts.

The visual arts night contained a variety of pieces by students from elementary up to high school, including paintings, photographs and digital logos. The IMS and MIHS art clubs also led interactive arts and crafts activities at personal tables throughout the Commons. Visitors could create clay sculptures, color in paper fish for a mural and even try out paper weaving.

In the 200s and 300s hallways, viewers could walk through a gallery of paintings by students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Each class followed a theme based on the Pacific Northwest, such as “Dancing in the Rain” and “Washington State Ferry.” Creations from IMS were highlighted as well, including Lego portraits of inspiring figures from the Pacific Northwest, ceramic sculptures of local wildlife and drawings by the Art I and II classes.

High school students enrolled in AP Drawing or Photography had their portfolios displayed as well, featuring a short description of each artist with several pieces they have created so far this year. These portfolios are a way to highlight students’ accomplishments to not only friends and family but the entire Mercer Island community.

“It is important for younger students to be inspired by their peers and the older students,” Fine Arts coordinator Patricia Pelter said. “Very seldom a kindergarten student gets to [see] the art created by [middle] or high-school kids and during [Showcase] all students are inspiring each other.”

In a new exhibit this year, a glow gallery occupied rooms 404 and 406. The block classroom was filled with paintings by students across the district made with fluorescent, glow-in-the-dark paint. The closing of windows and use of black lights made for a brilliant display admired by many visiting students and families.

The night’s success was a result of months of discussion and planning beforehand. Each year, the Fine Arts Advisory Council (FAAC) board meets monthly starting in September, and works with students and faculty to create and prepare content. As this is not an easy process, ample time and volunteers are needed.

“The biggest challenge remains the setup to display all the art … [it] has to be transported from elementary and middle school to the high-school, the ceramics have to be carefully wrapped for transport, it is a lot of work,” Pelter said. “With the recent budget shortages, we lost the arts secretary position and this person used to be responsible for some of these logistics. Now, all of that work falls in the hands of the arts faculty, the FAAC board.”

Art clubs also work hard to create the interactive art activities for visitors, and ceramics teacher Chantel Torrey comments on the different ideas students have tried out.

“We always try to have some sort of collaborative mural, maybe a photo booth. One year we did slime and that was fantastic. We even put out pottery wheels,” Torrey said.

In its second night, the showcase featured all the performing arts groups in two separate concerts, with a variety of songs played by students of all ages across the district. The entire third-grade choir performed in their own number, as well as the IMS and MIHS choirs. In addition, the concerts highlighted bands from both middle and high school, orchestras ranging from fifth to 12th grade, a wind ensemble and even a performance from the MIHS drama department’s spring production, “Shakespeare in Love.”

Orchestra director Lillian Hollyday, new to the district this year after Vicki White-Miltun’s retirement, is proud of the night’s successes, particularly the performances of the orchestra groups she has led.

“I am tremendously proud of all of the work that all students, directors [and] teachers did to put on this performance considering that we have limited resources,” Hollyday said.

The seventh and eighth grade orchestra’s performance stood out in particular since they performed with members of the Muckleshoot Tribe. They also had an unexpected song change the day of their performance, but the musicians gave it their all despite their minimum time to rehearse the new song.

Since last fall, every performing arts teacher has spent additional hours outside of school to coordinate logistics. “It was a beautiful night, [with] a lot of beautiful performances and [people] coming together, but 95% of that happened [from] months and months of planning that the audience didn’t see,” Hollyday said.

It is important for viewers to understand the effort put into the event in order to give the respect the artists and teachers deserve. “Ask yourself how all of those students knew how to walk onstage. Ask yourself how this plaque was made,” Hollyday said. “Take a moment to [really] sit there and appreciate the work that goes into these performances.”

Overall, this year presented another successful Fine Arts Showcase, and teachers from the visual and performing arts departments are delighted to see that their hard work has paid off. “I’m proud of how hard students and teachers work together to bring it all to fruition and that we get to continue something that’s bigger than we are, something that brings the island together,” Torrey said.

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About the Contributors
Mia LoBosco
Mia LoBosco, Copy Editor

Mia LoBosco (she/her) is a senior at MIHS. This is her fourth year on The Islander, and she is currently serving on the Copy Team! Her after school hobbies include dancing, drawing, creative writing, and playing video games.

Brooks Kahsai
Brooks Kahsai, Multimedia Team/Lead Photographer
Brooks Kahsai is an MIHS Senior and four-year member of The Islander. In previous years, he has served as a staff writer, Back Page Editor and the Photography Editor. This year he is excited to return as The Islander’s Photography Editor. Outside of school, Brooks is a dedicated member of the Black Student Union, and he enjoys photography, coding, singing and spending time with friends.

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    Jayce MadambaApr 23, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    It was a unique and interesting article to read. Glad to see many visual art pieces created by many students.