Students honored for their creative accomplishments by Maine’s First Lady

The Hall of Flags was filled with music and a lot of excited school students who were recognized at a celebration of Excellence in Maine Visual and Performing Arts Education. This first combined celebration by the Maine Department of Education and the Maine Arts Commission was recognized as an effective collaboration between state agencies by Maine’s First lady Ann LePage. “The collaboration is an excellence example of state agencies working together to provide more opportunities for Maine students.”

Joining her were State Board of Education Chair Martha Harris, Maine Arts Commission Executive Director Julie Richards, and Acting Education Commissioner Bill Beardsley. Beardsley told students, “Who we are, where we come from, where we are going is captured in art.”

Also in attendance were Legislators, Mick Devin (Nobleboro) and Martin Grohman (Biddeford) and students from AOS 93, AOS 92, MSAD 41, and the Biddeford School district along with their families.

In all, 63 students have their artwork displayed through the end of February, and student musicians from AOS 92’s jazz band and select choir shared patriot and holiday standards at the celebration.

Among those at the Hall of Flags Friday (Dec. 4), were third grader Amanda Cox of Biddeford Primary School. She said she was surprised to come to the State House saying, “It’s very great; this is very cool and very big.”

When 5th grader Joshua Bradeen was asked what he thought of the State House, he said he didn’t expect it would be “this fancy.”

Waterville High School senior CJ Gaunce was recognized for his photography. He said he likes “natural beauty like the State of Maine as a whole.”

Freshman Molly Wasilewski was recognized for her oil pastel of an eye. She said she was inspired to draw an eye based on her sister’s medical struggle with an eye problem.

Julia Fortin, also a freshman, called her artwork “Cupcake War.” She got the idea from her brother’s video game.

Nobleboro art educator of 15 years, Lisa Workman contends when students do well in art they often do better with testing. “I get asked, ‘Why it is kids love art.’” Her reply, “It’s hands-on, there is not always a right or wrong answer, students’ personalities come out in their art work, and I can tell if a student is doing well in math or science, for example, based on their art work.”

Workman also says when, “kids are floundering academically, they soar in art and that gives them confidence and we see the change.”

The students’ art work is on display in the Cross Building and State House through February. For more information about the arts and education, contact Visual and Performing Arts Specialist Beth Lambert at beth.lambert@maine.gov or 624-6642.