Fine arts department hosts the first art show and coffee house since the pandemic

The Pen and Paper Club hosted a coffee house, while the fine arts department produced an art show. The two productions took place on Thursday, December 8 from 6:30 to 8 pm. The art show took place outside the art rooms on the second floor, and the coffee house took place in the black box.

The art pieces produced in the art show were created by the students taking an art class. The work was chosen by the students who created them. Throughout the semester, the students created six pieces, and at the end of the semester, the students chose two pieces to display in the show. The pieces chosen had to be completed to be displayed. 

“The art show was really good. I had a lot of fun looking at everyone else’s work as well as learning from what they did differently to help improve on things that I noticed I was lacking within my work,” said freshman Shiloh Peterson.

“It’s cool to have your art out there to be seen by other artists, your friends, and teachers as well as the whole system where they put awards on your work. It’s cool, especially if something you made gets an award. It’s just kind of reassuring in a way. A lot of people who plan to do art later in life can be self-conscious about their work,” Peterson said.

The preparation for the art show was distributed throughout the first semester to the students themselves. As the teachers started collecting art and preparing it up to two weeks earlier. The art show itself is an annual tradition hosted by the art department.

“The students pick the pieces, and we try to get at least one from every student. Then, sometimes, the teachers might suggest others and influence the choice, but for the most part, it’s the student’s decision,” said art teacher Randy Sweitzer.

“It’s an annual event. We used to not do a winter show and we only did spring. Then we noticed that the coffee house was having an event, and we asked if we could tie in with them. So now we make it an event with the coffee house,” Sweitzer said.

Many students in the National Arts Honor Society, also known as NAHS, helped with the setup of the art show. The NAHS is a group of students who have a passion for the arts. They have meetings and volunteer at art shows held at North. The NAHS also creates activities for the art clubs. The NAHS is still accepting members as well. President Mikayla Rieber and vice president Luke Rathunde explain how they helped the art show as well as how it went from their perspective.

“The preparation has taken all semester, but it took about a week for us to set it up. I took all my free periods to prepare. I hung around as much as I could to help, like cut mounts and prepare the pieces to help put everything up and set up the stands,” said senior Mikayla Reiber.

“We worked on pieces throughout the semester. We started just by setting up the AP section because the teachers had the other sections out already. So we just took the panels out and set those up. We help the teachers whenever we can,” said senior Luke Rathunde.

As the art show began to come together, the coffee house started its preparation process. The coffee house was put to hold due to the pandemic, but as it opens back up, students take advantage of the opportunities the Pen and Paper Club are producing. Julia Burkel, one of the teachers in charge of the Pen and Paper Club, expresses how any student is welcome to participate.

“Pen and Paper are literary magazine preps for the coffee h]ouse. In the first semester, we work on writing, poetry, and performances. Then we kind of spread the word within our members for people to come to participate,” Burkel said.

“The coffee house was something we’ve been doing for years, but when COVID happened, we had to stop. I just think it’s like really the only venue that kids have to kind of show off talent, almost like a talent show in which all students can participate, even if you are not a part of the Pen and Paper Club. So it gives a different light to kids in their talents, and I love it,” Burkel said.

Since the coffee house this year was the first one to be held since the pandemic happened, getting the word out stood a challenge to the Pen and Paper Club. The turnout was not as strong compared to previous shows; however, they do not plan to let that hold them back. Pen and Paper member, Siena Pietraszak, opens up about her wishes for the turnout, as well as the preparation process to host the show.

“Getting the word out was the biggest issue. Other than that, aside from each act, which was practiced individually, most of the preparation happened after school, when we did a run-through with the mics, lights, and sound,” said sophomore Siena Pietraszak.

“I kind of wish we had a bigger turnout, but since this is the first year the coffee house has happened since before the pandemic, I think we’re at a great starting point, and hopefully the event can grow in the next few years!” Pietraszak said.

The acts of the coffee house were different in their ways. From interactive fill-in-the-blanks and interactive stories to solo artists and live poetry, the variety of acts produced by performers helped keep the energy lively. Member of the show, Alani Pedroza, signed up to do a solo vocal performance as she played the guitar. The song she played was ‘Subside’ by Eloise.

“It didn’t take me very long to prepare, since the song I played was one I have been singing and playing for a while. I practiced a bit at home using an amp as I usually play acoustically,” Pedroza said.

“I’ve performed in Slam Funk on the saxophone in the past, but I don’t perform vocally much. I’m in a band that’s performed a few times at parties, and that was formed about a year ago. This is the first solo performance I’ve ever done,” Pedroza said.

Both shows thrived in success in their ways. Much positive feedback was shared from the members of the show.

“It was fun. It was kind of hard to put up some of the pieces, but it was a really fun experience. I had a great time that night hanging out with my friends and showing people the art,” said a member of NAHS Liam Tuzik.

“It was a lot of fun. I liked getting to help set it up as well as getting to do things to help other people set up. I liked seeing everyone’s reactions to the art,” said a member of NAHS Chase RuBert.

“I had a great time, and I think the audience did too. Watching everyone share their talents was awesome, and hopefully, this sets a precedent for more successful coffee houses in the next few years,” Pietraszak said.

Ailani Pedroza plays guitar and sings at the Coffee House show.


Members of the Coffee house perform together. Jeyvin Coleman (drums), Nick Ellington (on trombone), Rachel Garich (on trumpet), Andrew Cepolski (on tuba), Wade Wilson (saxophone), Tyler Kregel (tenor saxophone). They are also known as the Basement Brass.


Members of NAHS, Chase RuBert, and Liam Tuzik pose in front of the mural with President Mikayla Rieber, Vice President Luke Rathunde, and teachers Randall Sweitzer, Meghan Crowley, and Kelly Bott.