Artists given a chance to shine

By Caroline Quinn, Editor-in-Chief

Between halftime performances, art shows, fall plays, spring musical and concerts, the West Essex community has proven that they know art. The students and faculty have created a program that gives everyone a chance to display their talent and share it with their peers. Whether hitting all the right notes under the spotlight on stage, serenading the crowd with their classical music or putting the finishing touches on intricate murals or detailed pieces of woodworking, the students have reaped the benefits of fine arts, performing arts and practical arts.

Although some believe art is individual, in reality most of it is collaborative and teaches the importance of teamwork. Artists constantly inspire one another and use their peers as motivation. Junior Madelin Morales can attest to the strength of a team and the support within the school after performing in multiple productions as a member of Masquers.

“I really admire the inclusivity of the arts program here at West Essex,” Madelin said. “Everyone is given a chance to shine and we are all very supportive of each other.”

Sophomore saxophonist Anthony Penna said working together in concert and marching band has taught him to work with others.

“Music relies much less on individual skill and more on ability to work together,” Anthony said. “While someone’s ability is important in an ensemble, if they are able to work with the people around them, the group will still be strong and successful.

In addition to collaboration skills, students say that engaging with art programs and classes has taught them to feel more confident in who they are. Putting work out there for others to see is not always easy to do and there is the risk of being criticized, but when students share their work they become stronger people.

“Aside from teaching creativity and expression, I think the arts help develop self-confidence,” Madelin said. “In theater, you have to be able to stand confidently in front of people and deliver value. It’s part of the job description. This confidence also translates into being an effective communicator, which is a vital life skill.”

Junior Mary Fant said her paintings and drawings have afforded her the perfect way to express herself through her artwork, fostered by a welcoming creative environment at school.

“Wearing certain clothes and listening to certain music is one thing, but using colors and making designs is something completely different,” Mary said. “It allows me to try different styles and play around with colors in a way that I find is fun and interesting.”

In the end, the medium—whatever flavor of visual, performing, and practical arts students chooses to immerse themselves in—isn’t as important as the message, which is creating a welcoming, fun atmosphere for students to get involved in. Whether the students plan on continuing their art after high school or not, they all say they’ve profited from it in some way.

“I’ve made a lot of friends and have been offered many opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to find outside of the music program,” Anthony said.

“All of the teachers, even the ones I have not had in class, are very supportive,” Mary said. “I have never felt like I did not have enough resources to make or do anything I wanted.”