Concert held to save art in public schools

Five years ago, the “Arts for All” program began its battle against the disappearance of fine arts from public schools. The program, originally created by the Hammond Accelerated Magnet Program, was created to expose students of all ages to the fine arts, such as music, dance and visual art through their academics.

“Bringing the arts back into the community makes you think differently,” said Fine Arts Coordinator Artie Fellom Gautier. “When we make children successful, productive members of society, it changes the community.”

On Saturday, Feb. 12, as part of “Arts for All,” three children’s concerts were given in Southeastern’s Pottle Music Auditorium. The first was a concert by the Accelerated Magnet Program from Hammond Eastside and Hammond Westside Elementary schools.

The children in this concert, led by Music Director Cynthia Tricou, were in pre-k, kindergarten and the first grade. Hammond Eastside Primary School, led by Music Director George Sanders, and Hammond Eastside Upper Elementary School, led by music Director Ellen Sweetman, put on the second concert.

These children were aged from first to sixth grade. Students of the same age from Hammond Westside Primary and Upper Elementary Schools performed the third and final concert, which was led by Music Director Sandy Blanchard.

Each of the concerts had its own separate theme, including different types of performances that included singing, dancing, playing musical instruments and dressing in costumes. Hammond Eastside’s performance included African-inspired costumes.

Along with the choral concert, part of the event was a visual art exhibition. Throughout the last year, students worked hard to create beautiful pieces of art to be displayed in the exhibit. Out of over 1,000 student art entries only about 100 pieces were chosen by five visual arts teachers to be displayed.

The “Arts for All” program was able to have these concerts in the Pottle Music Auditorium thanks to its partnership with Southeastern’s College of Education and Human Development and the department of fine and performing arts.

“Southeastern embraces this community; they embrace the arts,” said Gautier.

Southeastern’s further involvement in this production included an assignment in a graphic design class. The students in the Print Design II class each designed a poster to compete and win a chance to advertise for the event.

Several visual arts teachers and the principals of each school made up the panel that chose the winning poster, which was designed by Kayla Hebert, a visual arts senior.

“It feels great to win. It definitely boosts my confidence,” said Hebert. “It’s the first real thing I’ve done that I really liked myself, and for someone else to like it is really exciting.”