Butterflies bring bucks for arts school

June 20, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- The Maryland Theatre's floor seats were for bidding and the balcony was for cheering during Saturday's butterfly statue auction

"Buy it, buy it, buy it," dozens of students in the balcony chanted from above during one bidding battle.

Several times, the students -- soon to start at the new Barbara Ingram School for the Arts next door -- yelled their support for the money soon to change hands.

Saturday's Take Flight auction and gala in downtown Hagerstown capped months of butterfly-related hoopla over the new school, which is scheduled to open in August.

In February, artists who designed 30 metal butterfly statues met their sponsors.

The artwork emerged on downtown Hagerstown's sidewalks in April and stayed for several weeks.

Ten of the 30 pieces were put up for auction Saturday, adding to a pool of money raised for the school's foundation.


Tickets for the black-tie optional gala were $75 apiece.

Dale Bannon, the director of system development for Washington County Public Schools, said about 600 people attended, including about 100 incoming students.

The school will offer certificate programs in dance, instrumental music, vocal music, theater and visual arts.

Some students showed off their musical and rhythmic talents Saturday for guests at the newly renovated school building on South Potomac Street.

Gabriella DiGiuseppe performed a lyrical dance routine called "Chasing Pavements."

Gabriella, who is entering ninth grade, said she's more excited to start school than she's ever been.

Dr. Matthew Hahn and Bibi Hahn of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., said their daughter, Willa, will study musical theater at the school.

"She'd like to be an actress," Matthew Hahn said.

The Hahns will pay tuition because they don't live in the school district.

"Every child should have a chance to study their passion," Bibi Hahn said.

The couple who paid the most attention to the invitation -- "Butterfly-themed dress encouraged" -- were Paul and Pam Hall, who live in the Clear Spring area.

Pam had an intricate butterfly painted on her face around her left eye. Paul had one around his right eye.

Their son, Gabriel, will enter the Barbara Ingram school as a freshman, studying visual arts and music.

They said Gabriel likes to make detailed fantasy art and also makes jewelry.

Gabriel and his twin brother, Skyler, created their own cartoon, Paul Hall said.

After a tour and dinner in the school building, guests moved to The Maryland Theatre for the auction.

Auctioneers Pieter Bickford and Cliff Springer talked up the statues and cajoled the crowd into bidding just a little bit more each time.

The patter seemed to work for some auction items.

A butterfly called "Three Months at a Time" sold for $5,000. Another called "Heiskell Musical" went for $2,800, which included a Yamaha electric grand piano as a bonus.

The winning bid for a conducting class with Maryland Symphony Orchestra Music Director Elizabeth Schulze was $500.

Noting the energy and enthusiasm of the teenagers in the balcony, Bickford joked, "We can always let students bid and we'll bill the parents."

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