For school districts, June signals the near-end of the academic year and athletic events. For students at Springfield School High School, it is also time to complete year-long endeavors in the arts.
“Celebration of the Arts” is staged annually, with about three-quarters of all students adding to the school-wide exhibit of fine, technical, industrial and performing art projects.
The school’s hallways are filled with photographs, paintings, ceramic sculpture, and the traditional location for the architectural constructions from teacher Dave Ash’s class. The culinary arts are featured and last for as much time as it takes to judge and consume the varied dishes and pastries.
One anticipated highlight of Celebration is the assemblage of work shown in the Cougar Gym.
Industrial Materials projects, created by students of George Trout, range from clocks and toy trucks to extraordinary pieces of furniture. This year the penultimate project took pride of place in the nearby parking lot—a small house crafted by Aigars Panzer, who also made a working kitchen cabinet and sink for his “tiny house.”
Celebration has arguably become the most popular and attended district event, not only for students, but the entire community. Students demonstrate skills and talents. Some are learned during the school year, but others-such as musical proficiency—may be lifelong endeavors.
Doubtless parents enjoy the displays, often having to endure and support their young people’s projects financially, and in long hours spent at school in studios. It is, however, as the students always relate, a sense of accomplishment.
But the satisfaction goes beyond a single sculpture, table, drawing, painting or performance with the jazz band. Students also say Celebration encourages each individual to delve into areas they might not otherwise recognize in themselves, and to have peers recognize it as well.
As one senior observed at a past Celebration opening, “It shows you don’t know what you can do until you try.”
The school district takes accomplishment to a higher level each year with its Arts Hall of Fame and Achievers Hall of Fame, organized and supported by the Springfield Area Education Foundation (SAEF). A luncheon now combines the two recognitions and celebrates individuals who have a direct connection with the district—either as a graduate, faculty member, or other significant relationship.
This year’s Arts Halls of Fame represent various areas of expertise. Inductees (in alphabetical order, years of service or graduation), and their achievements were: Allen J. Brennan, school district faculty in music 1966-1992. Barbara Flocco, 1966, professional musician and teacher. Ryan Hartley, 1997, graphic arts professional, founder of Heartline Press and award winning businessman. Louise Matthews, 1969, professional musician and professional geographer. Anne Peterson, 1974, professional musician; a bassist and teacher. Brent Porche, 1998, radio production and on-air host (WMMR). Bob Preston, SHS faculty 1984-2012, re-created and built graphic arts department into a modern, viable career track for students.
The Achievers Hall of Fame was created in the last five years to recognize individuals with outstanding contributions in varied fields such as business, law and medicine, among others. The inductees were: Geraldine Wenkel Mellace, 1957 graduate, rose in business as a stock trader and Philadelphia office manager of a major brokerage firm. Scott H. Kozin, MD, 1978, a leading specialist in hand surgery who has devoted his practice to the needs of children. Marc Kozin, 1979, business consultant in strategic planning for diverse corporations and initiatives. Judith Bachman, 1973, financial and management professional specializing in health system organizations. Erlina Ardeo, SHS faculty 1968-2003, athletic coach, founder of programs supporting student needs in human and civil rights.
All Halls of Fame members are represented on plaques displayed in the high school. SAEF President and school Director Emeritus Stanley Johnson, said the plaques and individuals serve as a reminder, inspiration and motivation to current students.