A multitude of talents on display at Cultural Arts Night 2011



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The combined seventh through 12th grade Chorus, under the direction Plymouth Regional High School Music teacher Will Gunn, performs during Cultural Arts Night at PRHS last Wednesday evening. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
March 23, 2011
PLYMOUTH—As SAU #48 Superintendent Mark Halloran welcomed friends, family members and guests to Cultural Arts Night 2011 at Plymouth Regional High School last Wednesday night, he noted that the annual event was clearly one of his favorites of the school year.

He was not alone, as hundreds turned out for the popular exhibition by students of all ages, from everywhere around the SAU.

It was a feast for the senses, with stunning visual artwork adorning the hallways, impressive musical performances and lively dance numbers in the gymnasium, and hors d'oeuvres circulating from the kitchen of the PRHS Culinary Arts Program.

After the Plymouth Regional High School Chamber Singers led the audience in singing the National Anthem, Honorary Master of Ceremonies for the evening and former Campton Elementary School teacher and accomplished artist Alma Grand spoke movingly to the crowd about the importance of the arts in her own life and in the life of the community.

The accomplished artist said that art had been an integral part of her life since she was a young child watching her father, a mechanical engineer, design complicated yet beautiful machinery for mills and mines.

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PRHS Global History student and costume designer Mary Hunter discusses the fine points of Shakespearian dramatic productions as she stands next to her miniature scale replica of the Bard's famed medieval Globe Theater at Stratford on Avon in England. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
"It was all art to me," said Grand, recollecting the influence of her "first art teacher."

She said that art had continued to be a huge part of her life up until the present time. The accomplished sculptor, painter and printmaker can still be found each year in Annette Mitchell's popular Plymouth State University printmaking classes, as well as classes at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center and Artistic Roots. She said she was glad to see her artistic DNA being passed on to her children and grandchildren, as well.

"My life has been filled with art, and I am richer for the experience," said Grand. "Art inspires us, connects us and liberates millions of us through our creativity with the brush, camera, dance or song. From my work with students, I have learned that the most successful students in all fields are those that have been given the opportunity to discover themselves and their hidden talents through the arts. There is no greater expression of our humanity."

The audience was then treated to a program of dance and music by student performers ranging in age from elementary to high school.

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Waiting in the wings: The Plymouth Elementary School second grade square dancers prepared to kick off the impressive medley of performances by SAU 48 students in the gymnasium at PRHS during Cultural Arts Night 2011. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
The Plymouth Elementary School square dancers kicked off the program in straw hats and green (St. Patrick's Day) country kerchiefs. The "ladies" in flouncy skirts promenaded hand in hand with their gentlemanly partners, swinging right and left, inside the circle and outside, with fancy footwork.

They were followed by a knockout musical performance of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" from "Alice in Wonderland" by students of the Waterville Valley Elementary School, and a dramatic performance of "It's a Hard Knock Life" by Thornton Elementary School.

The crowd heard from the Campton Elementary School "Men's Choir"; the combined Holderness Central and Ashland Elementary School Band performing "A Little Night Music" by none other than W.A. Mozart; and for a change of pace, the Blues groove of the very talented Plymouth Elementary School Jazz Band.

Outside in the hallways, a wide range of artistic styles and mediums were on display. Chosen by art teachers and produced throughout the school year, the exhibition included watercolors, photography, sculpture, ceramics, graphic design, multimedia productions and much, much more by students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Woodworking and drafting projects created by PRHS students and some of the middle school were also on display.

To top it all off, students from the Culinary Arts program served shamrock sugar cookies with green glitter, chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting, lime tartletts with meringue on top, and red velvet truffles dipped in white chocolate, among other things too tantalizing to mention.

Students from Mr. Mills' Global History class got in on the act, too, with students showing off their class projects from the Greeks to the Middle Ages. Notably, Ryan Farina, Derik Guile and Steve Cote were displaying an incredible 1/50th scale wooden model of a Greek Trireme, which, if you have never heard of it before, is a warship used in the Battle of Salamis, with three levels of 170 oars, two main sails and room for 203 miniature crewmen. The astounding model took the team more than 100 hours to construct.

Their classmates, Kevin Rogers, Ryan Milton and Joe Campagna, presented a project on gladiators in the Roman Coliseum, complete with sword and shield and period costumes. And Mary Hunter was well versed in everything Shakespearian as she spoke to interested visitors about her miniature replica of the medieval Globe Theater in England.

Cultural Arts Night is an annual event that celebrates local arts programs and the creativity of the students that learn from them. It is held in March each year in recognition of Youth Art Month, Music in Our Schools Month, and the Regional Drama Festival.

This year, the Plymouth Regional High School Theater Department is preparing to perform John Buchan's "The 39 Steps," adapted by Patrick Barlow, at the New Hampshire Education Theater Guild's annual Drama Festival, which will take place March 26 at Plymouth Regional High School. It is an all-day event that is open to the public. You won't want to miss it.

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