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Local students find their muse at Digitopia

KINGSTON -- The band hadn’t quite agreed on a name by the time they began their first public performance.

So lead vocalist David LeMay decided to call the sextet Kieve -- the second “e” is purposeful, since there already exists a band named after the Ukrainian city. The six Kingston High School students comprising Kieve played to a full dining room at the Oak Table Café Wednesday to kick off the North Kitsap School District’s inaugural Digitopia -- a music, photography and film festival showcasing some of the top creative works from the district’s three high schools.

Theresa Aubin Ahrens, a photography teacher at North Kitsap High, said the festival motivated her students to dig deep and find their muse.

“When you know you’re going to do something in front of people, the quality always goes up,” Ahrens said.

Digitopia featured a cavalcade of artistic pieces with a digital theme, from photos to Flash animation to music videos to short films. The mostly acoustic musical stylings of Kieve and Kingston freshmen Marilyn Fick and Sam Trevino appeared not to fit the Digitopia mold, but as their teacher, Richard Pullen, pointed out, the young musicians learn to use digital recording software to capture their sounds.

“It’s all ones and zeroes,” Pullen said.

Throughout the evening, LeMay’s rich, smooth baritone, reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, welcomed guests to the Oak Table, where they could view a collection of photographs arranged along the restaurant’s window sills.

The pictures, taken by Ahrens's first-year photography students, will be displayed at the Aubin Ahrens Photography studio, located above the Dancing Brush on Front Street, until June 10.

Also on display at the Oak Table were drawings and paintings from North Kitsap High School artists, including a colored pencil piece by Sophia Leonard, called Le poete bleu. The drawing was one of the top 13 works recently selected from a field of 119 by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in a statewide art contest called "Arts Are Emotional Experiences."

Once the microphones were switched off and the guitars placed back in their cases, the crowd moved next door to the Firehouse Theater to witness a wide range of student films. The films ran the gamut from scary to funny to sad to just plain weird. But all were undoubtedly creative.

"There's quite a variety," Jay Montgomery, who teaches video production at North, said as he introduced the videos. "Overall, I think you'll get a good idea of the artistic endeavors of our teenagers."

Viewers took in a visual buffet in the three reel collection of high school works. They saw chainsaw-weilding teachers, backflipping students, cross dressers, inter-dimensional travelers and dancing potato heads, among the cornucopia of themes. Some videos taught lessons, others entertained with music and humor, and still others explored the filmmaking methods of stop motion and claymation.

Turnout for Digitopia was lower than that of more established arts festivals in the district; the 140-seat Main Stage theater was close to half full. But event organizer Bob Geballe, a teacher at Spectrum, was glad to give students the opportunity to show off their hard work, and is not averse to tweaking his methods in the future if necessary.

"My desire is that the video production programs and the students in them get a chance to bring their work into the community," Geballe said. "So however that happens, I'm happy."

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