Lifestyle

Festival embraces the arts

KINGSTON — Art is alive in North Kitsap.

Artists and art lovers from all corners of the North Kitsap School District and beyond packed the halls and classrooms of Kingston High School Wednesday for the district’s seventh annual Festival of the Arts.

The event welcomed close to 300 visitors who had the chance to view the creative constructions and compositions of students and staff from every nook and cranny of the district. James Andrews, arts department head at KHS and the festival’s organizer, said the event is meant to be a tool for the advocacy of arts education, and praised the district for its role in promoting art in schools.

“I’m very blessed, but there are a lot of schools and districts that are not in our position,” Andrews said.

Student and staff art from visual to music to dance to theater filled the school for the Wednesday evening event. Paintings and photos adorned nearly every wall. Hand-made bocce balls filled a staircase. A pink and white fiberglass cow greeted visitors at the main entrance. And a gas flame danced to the operatic voice of a soprano.

“We have some really talented people here,” said KHS student Theresa Tucci, who displayed a Flash animation project she created in a digital design class at the school.

During a special ceremony, Una McAlinden, executive director of ArtsEd Washington, a nonprofit organization that works to ensure students throughout the state have access to arts education, was honored for her efforts. McAlinden encouraged visitors to speak out in support of the arts to leaders in their local government.

“The point is to raise awareness of arts as part of a complete education,” McAlinden said in regards to her organization’s mission. “[Art] is an essential part of being a complete human being.”

McAlinden recently won the support of Gov. Chris Gregoire and Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn in designating May Arts Education Month across the state. Last week, the North Kitsap school board approved a similar measure, recognizing Arts Education Month in the district. School board president Tom Anderson presented the board’s declaration Wednesday, and AnnRené Joseph, program supervisor for the arts for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, presented Dorn’s statement.

“All of us need to dance, act and create to think,” Joseph said. “If all 295 school districts had a band like this and an art director like this, I wouldn’t have to work 24/7.”

While he applauded the work of the North Kitsap school board and leaders at the state level, Andrews said he would like to see arts education continue to gain support and flourish across Washington state. He hopes the festival will pique the public’s interest in the arts.

“Nights like this, they raise people’s awareness,” Andrews said. “People come away feeling great, and when you feel great about something, you want more of it.”

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