ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 2 NUMBER 3 * * All Arts News On the Web * * MARCH, 1998


      Artists document the human search for meaning and identity. They use dance, digital graphics, language and literature, music, paintings, photography, sculpture, and the theater to demonstrate their findings.
      Although art begins with fingers swirling through colored mud or voices raised in chords, Franklin County schools have given many local artists the grounding they need to improve technique and expand a vision. We enjoy a rich artistic heritage here because residents, tourists, businesses, schools, and governments support the arts.
      The four Franklin County supervisory unions have fine arts programs that cover two and three dimensional art plus concert, band, and choral music. Prose, poetry, and literature are taught as individual courses and integrated throughout the curriculum.       This month we continue our focus on how our schools prepare artists to succeed and help all students participate in and enjoy the arts with a look at the schools in Franklin West Supervisory Union which serves Fairfax and Georgia.


      The Fine Arts are taught across the curriculum in this 1,000 student school that serves grades K-12. The elementary grades concentrate on visual arts. Middle school adds band and chorus. The upper grades have a very complete fine arts program with the addition of ceramics, drama, and more.
      "I like a lot of interaction between the arts and other programs," said new Superintendent Roger Bourassa.
      Teachers and parents alike say the administration makes a positive difference.
      "We have regular programs that feature the work our students are doing," said high school principal Alex Zidovksy. "The elementary school did an interdisciplinary unit on Africa that culminated with an [open house] evening with artwork all over the school. The Hiram Bellows bicentennial included wonderful artwork that students had done. That was a combination of the visual arts, choral work, and band."
      Instrumental instruction starts in fourth grade with Suzanne Hogan. Bruce McRae teaches from grade five through high school. There is a beginner band, a jazz band, a concert band and plans for a middle school band. The concert band is not age or grade dependent; students qualify "when they get to a certain point in their lesson materials," said McRae.
      "The halls are an art gallery from roof to floor," said art teacher Susan Parker.
      K-8 students study ceramics, plaster sculpture, papier mache, fabrics and weaving,
      "We teach kids to appreciate the arts rather than how to become artists, so we also do a lot of art history and gallery visits," Parker said.
      Students visit the Fleming Museum and Arts Alive and the seventh grade is touring Boston this year. Many of the really interested kids go on to the Burlington vocational program.
      The art program is very much interdisciplinary. The third and fourth grade recently studied the Inuit art of the polar regions and the sixth grade concentrated on the Hiram Bellows unit. They made a fabric wall hanging, a multimedia timeline slide show with sound voiceovers and music, and painted murals commemorating the annivrsary. Enrichment activities also included a Monopoly-style board the called Fairfaxopoly. Students meet once weekly but "they are all begging for more time," Parker said.
      BFA-Fairfax graduates go on to study and earn a living in the arts. One is currently a freshman music major at Johnson State. Three oboists are working performers in New York. Another graduate teaches outside Chicago.
      BFA presents four annual evening concerts at the school. They march in the All State Parade and the Dairy Festival each year. They have as many as 10 participants in New England Music Festival. 22 students played in the district music festival in the concert band, wind ensemble, and chorus this year.
      They recently participated in Vermont Concert Band Music Festival. Bands were adjudicated at Champlain Valley Union High School and received feedback from judges Tom Toner and Gary Quarkland. Two kids went to the New England Music and one sophomore player is principal trumpet in the All State Band.
      "In every project we do, [the art groups] come in to ask 'what are you doing next,'" said teacher Pat Nilsson. "It is incredible."


      This K-8 school has two music teachers, one and one-half art teachers, a formal enrichment program, drama classes, 5-6th grade chorus, 7-8th chorus, plus beginners, intermediate, and advanced bands.
      Enrichment teacher Nancy Mildrum teaches drama in 10 week blocks; the drama club meets weekly after school. Students performed the musical SCROOGE in November.
      Art teachers Ellen Hsieh and Carol Crosby teach art appreciation and history as well as technique. Younger students are finishing three-dimensional projects while the 7th and 8th art choice classes paint Under the Sea, the 1998 annual mural in the central hallway. Carol Crosby covered female artists in March.
      The two choruses and the intermediate and advanced bands under music teachers Marilyn Sink and Randy Wheeler held their annual Pops concert last week. The Tigger Singers exchanged music with St. Albans City school and performed with several other Franklin County schools Friday afternoon. Students just finished a composition class with pieces that will be uploaded for the Web Project. The musical groups will present one more concert in May.
      Art and Music will also collaborate to bring the community and school together for the Eighth Celebration of the Arts in May.


      The All Arts Council will hold a monthly networking meeting in the Collins-Perley Sports Center in St Albans tonight at 7 p.m.
      Upcoming events include planning for the grand opening of the AAC Gallery at the Gift Gallery, Maple Festival, a Claire Hungerford concert, and a collaboration with Cambridge Arts Council for An Evening of Ballroom Music on Mother's Day.

      The Georgia Gate Players 1998 Spring production of Godspell begins tomorrow night at St Paul's Methodist Church in St Albans. There will be four performances, Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.

      Gail Salzman of Fairfield will open an exhibit of new work at the Flynn Theater Gallery on Saturday. CONNECTING...A Work in Progress grew out of the St Albans CAN! program and the Liz Lerman dance residencies in St Albans. In a series of compelling paintings, Salzman explores bonds between people and how the community relates to the arts. The Flynn Gallery will hold an opening reception on Saturday 6- 7:30 p.m. The show will continue until May 29.


      Check out the elegant illustrated chalkboards enticing you to the foods in the new Price Chopper. They're the work of AAC artists Patrice Havreluk-Hemingway of Bakersfield and Beth Maginn of St Albans. Artists Gisele Chouinard of Barre and Michele Bailey of Rutland also collaborated on the opening.


Dick Harper, Co-Chair

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