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Visual Arts Department receives state recognition

Senior Alaina Ashley works on her project in AP Art.

The visual arts department has received statewide recognition this year as a renowned “School of Distinction.”

The Illinois Art Education Association annually selects such distinctive schools whose art programs sharpen and showcase student work, develop professional skills, and extend the rosy branch of creativity to the community, among other qualities.

“We were chosen as one of only three schools in the state of Illinois to receive the Distinguished Schools for Art, so it was honoring our whole program and all the things that we do both as teachers, as artists, as helping the community, all of it,” said art teacher Randy Sweitzer. “That was a very big honor for us to receive.”

Like a brush and a splash of water uncovering the colorful potential within a set of tempera cakes, the arts department exposes student voices and channels them through various outlets.

“We have our winter Coffee House art show coming up Dec. 7; that’s in combination with some other groups within the school like Pen and Paper, so students get to express themselves through poetry or song while there’s also visual art out in the hallways to help lead into that. We have outside things that students can apply to like Scholastic Art,” said fine arts teacher Kelly Bott. “We just really look for any opportunity that students can celebrate what they’ve done and hopefully get some recognition for it too.”

The Art Club and National Art Honor Society provide a student-driven environment that propagates the bloom of visual art outside the classroom.

“We do a lot of community-based work. Around the school we do murals. We do a lot of the decorations for Homecoming, and we also
host all the art shows where we have a bunch of activities, especially MUSE in May. Really, it’s a really great time,” said junior and Art Club co-president Elijah Bond.

A recent invitation to a student-teacher art exhibition presented a joint opportunity for Bond and Sweitzer to celebrate their talent symbiotically.

“There were 40 and a few extra people at the gallery, and we would go to where our artwork was displayed together. I would talk about my artwork, and then I would introduce my students, and so then I introduced Elijah and he was just fabulous. He handled himself so maturely and talked very eloquently about his artwork,” Sweitzer said.

The varied personal backgrounds, the differing perspectives on life and methods of execution which compose the students and staff who take part in visual arts provide the fuel for a diverse art ecosystem. Perhaps the root of the department’s award is its perennial interest in expanding the field of its constituents.

“Beyond my own family and my children, this is my other home, and my other family is getting to work with students and support their visual communication and support their cultural expression and support their divergent thinking,” Bott said. “Art is a great place to make friends because you can socialize while you work, and it’s about the social experience of what we create. Students shouldn’t be afraid of that, and they should feel supported in that we’re here to help them develop their artistic eye.”

Some inspired students have taken part in art offerings outside of North to extend the reach of their experience.

“I do take a lot of out of school courses. I took one in Chicago over the summer, and I plan to do another one this summer. But art is pretty much the only thing I ever think about,” Bond said.

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About the Contributor
I'm David, a junior at North and a new addition to the editorial staff of The Knight Times. I enjoy creative writing and self-expression, but throughout school, I feel I haven't had enough opportunity to practice this skill I feel very passionately about. In my spare time, I create music, sketch ideas, write poetry, and participate in North's Academic Team every autumn.

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