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Elementary Arts Festival showcases student visual and performing arts talent

February 07, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Jayn Stewart, left, and her grandaughters Sophia and Charlotte Williams look at art work on display at the Elementary Arts Festival held at South Hagerstown High School Thursday night.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Eight-year-old Izzy Corson entered several pieces of artwork to be featured in the 2013 Elementary Arts Festival on Thursday night at South Hagerstown High School.

Standing with her parents and sporting a wide grin, the third-grader from Smithsburg Elementary said she didn’t know which one was going to appear in the second annual show.

The work chosen by her art teacher for the show was a collage of winter landscapes with snowy trees that took two classes to complete, Izzy said.

“We’re just really proud of her,” said Izzy’s father, Brian Corson of Smithsburg, while standing next to his wife, Nicole.

The festival featured a total of 87 pieces of artwork by Washington County elementary school students, as well as close to 200 fourth- and fifth-graders on stage performing in the all-county orchestra and band before a capacity crowd inside the South High auditorium.

Rob Hovermale, supervisor of visual and performing arts for county schools, said the elementary festival was a spin-off from the all-county events traditionally held for middle and high school students.

“We always wanted to do something for the elementary, so we started this last year,” he said.

The first year of the event included performances by the all-county chorus, orchestra, band and dance groups plus artwork displays, but Hovermale said school officials decided to break it down into two nights this year — one in the fall, which was held at North Hagerstown High and featured chorus, dance and visual art, and Thursday’s show at South — as a way help accommodate the large crowds of proud parents and grandparents of students in the system’s 27 elementary schools.

“It was so crowded we had to take people in and out, so this year we did it a little different,” he said.

A steady stream of families were filing into the South High lobby to check out the artwork, set up outside the school’s auditorium, before taking their seats inside to hear the music.

Kara Hanegraff of Hagerstown came out to the event with her husband, Matt, to see the artwork of their 6-year-old daughter, Claire, a first-grader at Ruth Anne Monroe Primary.

“I think it’s nice to get a chance to get out and see all their stuff,” Kara Hanegraff said. “She’s really excited to show us her artwork. I’m proud of her.”

Aodhan Waters, 9, a third-grader at Maugansville Elementary, admitted he was a little bit nervous about showing off his self-portrait drawing at the show.

“It feels good” though, Aodhan said, flanked by his mother, Jennifer Waters of Hagerstown, his 7-year-old sister, Carter, a second-grader at Maugansville Elementary, and his grandparents, Debra and Charles Johnson.

“I’m just very proud of him,” Waters said of her son. “And the artwork is beautiful. All the kids did a great job.”

A steady cold draft blew through the hallways as hundreds of people entered the school doors. Aodhan said he was ready to go into the auditorium to hear his fellow students perform.

“It’s warmer in there,” he said, looking up at his mother and holding onto her coat sleeve.

Kicking off the musical numbers was the 63-piece orchestra led by guest conductor Todd Medcalf, who currently serves as strings instructor at nine county elementary schools.

Some of the selections performed by the orchestra were composed by professional musician Linda Bange, the all-county band guest conductor. A retired teacher, Bange next led the group of 104 brass and percussion performers through several more selections.

Hovermale said the musical groups, composed predominantly of fifth-graders, were selected by each elementary schools’ music directors.

Throughout the school year, the young musicians get to perform with their smaller ensembles at their respective schools, he said, but the all-county performances offer a rare chance for the students and their parents.

“Here, they get to come out and get to combine with kids from all over the county who are doing the same thing they’re doing, having the same crowd ... and then they get to put it all together,” Hovermale said. “We’re just really excited.”

Numerous attending families also made contributions to the local food bank during the free event, filling up about 10 cardboard boxes placed near the auditorium entrance with canned or nonperishable goods.

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