Festival highlights students’ talents

WEST MILFORD. Creative work by those in grades K-12 on display, and choir, band, color guard and theater arts students entertain.

| 03 Apr 2024 | 03:45

An array of art and music produced an entertaining evening for residents who filled West Milford High School for the 10th annual All District Arts Festival on Wednesday, March 27.

Work by students in grades K-12 in art, photography, digital designs, woodworking and 3D printing was on display, and students in choir, band, color guard and theater arts performed.

Brian McLaughlin, director of band at the high school, said the festival is a celebration of student talent and the opportunities they have in the West Milford school district.

“It’s a great event every year and inspirational for the kids themselves. Among the fun things are the band parents of graduated students who come back every year to enjoy the performances and the progress of the current kids.

“It’s a Concert of Hope and a highlight for our high school musicians along with the fifth-graders who are starting out,” he said. “Bagpipe band members say their decision to play pipes started when they were in grammar school, seeing the older kids play. The event shows younger students that if they stay in the program, they can play like the high schoolers one day.”

Jenna Sokolik, who teaches art at Westbrook and Maple Road elementary schools, said the number of artworks by grades K-5 students was the highest ever, with about 120 student submissions from her classes.

“In all, there were nearly 600 works of art from all the elementary schools. It’s great being able to highlight our community’s young talent, who can see themselves as successful artists in the future.”

Along with a Technology Education Showcase, students presented “Empty Bowls,” part of an international project to fight hunger.

The high school Art and Culinary Departments served a simple meal of bread and soup in ceramic bowls, which were made by students and some teachers, for guests to take home as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.

Nicole Petrosillo, president of West Milford High School Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO), said the event was one of the most well-attended in years.

She and her PTSO colleagues staffed the busy concession stand during the program.

“It is a culmination of a tremendous number of hours of effort and collaboration on part of my teaching colleagues, outstanding work of students, and the dedication of staff and parents,” she said. “We’re thankful to all those who attended and took part in the Arts Festival.”