Festival to feature students’ artistic skills

Apr. 02, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

This Thursday, teachers and children from schools in and around Siler City are inviting all fans of the arts to a festival replete with music, drama, painting and more.

Starting at 6 p.m. at Jordan-Matthews High School, students from that school, as well as Chatham Middle School, Silk Hope School, Virginia Cross Elementary School and Siler City Elementary School, will display their cultural talents. The show opens with a gallery featuring art created by students of all grade levels, and at 7 p.m., the musical and dramatic performances begin. The event is free and open to everyone.

“It will be kindergarten through seniors,” said Lori Carlin, the public information officer and arts coordinator for Chatham County Schools. “So you just get a really wide variety of artwork and performances, and it gives the younger students something to look up to and [lets them] see what’s possible if they stick with it.”

Siler City is a small town, but support for the arts apparently looms large. Teachers at Jordan-Matthews recently told the school’s arts foundation that their piano was in desperate need of replacement, and people in Siler City and other parts of Chatham County responded by raising thousands of dollars to buy the school a baby grand piano.

It will be unveiled during Thursday’s festival.

“It’s extraordinary to think people gave enough money so we could have this amazing instrument that will be here for years,” senior Heath Smith was quoted as saying in a recent press release about the piano. “I will be the first JM student to play it in public ... and I feel truly honored.”

The district plans to hold county-wide arts festivals every other year, with last year’s festival being the first. In off years like this year, the district’s three regions — Siler City, Pittsboro and central Chatham — will hold individual festivals. The Pittsboro festival will be next month, and the central Chatham one was held in the fall, Carlin said, and was a great success.

“The kids just had so much fun, and the community came out in droves,” said Carlin, a former drama teacher. “It’s just such a refreshing thing, when you work in a vacuum — which working in arts education can be sometimes — to see the rest of the community enjoying the arts as well.”