South End students to showcase visual, performing artworks at festival

South Whidbey School District will host its fifth annual showcase of visual and performance artwork next week. The Whidbey Festival of the Arts is student-centered, though a number of community sponsors and artists will also be present.

Students work on a fiber arts project during class on Thursday morning. These and other works will be displayed at the Whidbey Festival of the Arts.

South Whidbey School District will host its fifth annual showcase of visual and performance artwork next week.

The Whidbey Festival of the Arts is student-centered, though a number of community sponsors and artists will also be present.

The festival will take place from 5-8 p.m. Friday, May 29 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 30 at the South Whidbey High School campus.

It’s an opportunity for students in kindergarten through 12th grade to share their artwork with the community, said Betsy Gmerek, art program coordinator for South Whidbey Elementary School and Langley Middle School.

“This is all brought together by community efforts,” said Gmerek.

During a class Thursday morning, Gmerek assisted middle school students at South Whidbey Academy as they put the finishing touches on felt projects, a part of the school’s fiber arts program sponsored by South Whidbey Schools Foundation.

Ethne Diamond, a sixth-grader, said she has enjoyed learning how to work with felt. Though Diamond has been sewing for several years, she was excited to experiment with the new materials.

Stephanie Erickson, a seventh-grader, said she enjoys the hands-on aspect of the arts program. It’s also afforded her an opportunity for self-expression.

“Art comes from the heart, not the brain,” she said.

Gmerek explained that this and other district art classes have been learning about Pacific Northwest Native American designs. Several of the students’ work in this vein will be on display at the festival.

“The arts (visual, performing, literary, cultural) are an essential part of understanding our culture and ourselves. Art education addresses the creativity in our lives,” wrote Don Wodjenski, a festival coordinator and former art teacher, in an email to The Record. “Through drawing, painting, playing music, sculpture, crafts, writing poetry, theater arts, etc., we, as individuals, can express ourselves in ways that may reveal nature or deepen the mystery.”

Wodjenski continued by stating that the event is a celebration of students’ creative accomplishments.

“Despite declining enrollment and declining budgets in our school districts, the arts community looks to engage with educators to encourage creative education and enrich the lives of our youngest community members,” Wodjenski wrote.

In addition to a presentation of students’ visual arts displayed at various locations throughout the campus, the festival will feature live music on two stages as well as family friendly hands-on art activities such as button making, origami, a scavenger hunt, weaving with natural fibers, photo booth, face painting and games.

Students of the Westside Rotary Club will hold a barbecue, and high school student baristas of the Sweet Spot Cafe will serve drinks. The South Whidbey Elementary Parent Teacher Association, along with the fifth grade students, will host a bake sale and cake walk to fund the 2016 fifth-grade field trip.

The festival is sponsored by Whidbey Island Arts Council, South Whidbey Elementary and the South Whidbey School District. Artists of South Whidbey, The Blue School, Northwest Language Academy, Art as a Way and the Whidbey Island Arts Council will be present to share information about programs and activities. Participants from Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, Whidbey Children’s Theater, Artists of South Whidbey, Whidbey Fine Art Studio, Island Strings and Island Dance will also be present.



Whidbey Festival of the Arts performance art schedule:


5 p.m. Island Dance Competition Team (courtyard)

6 p.m. SWHS Choir Music in Motion (courtyard)

7 p.m. LMS Jazz Band (auditorium)

8 p.m. SWHS Jazz Band (auditorium)


11 a.m. Island Strings (courtyard)

Noon: Bourgeois Bombsquad (courtyard)

1 p.m. Gloria Ferry-Brennan (courtyard)

2 p.m. Kelly Chambers and Molli Henderson (courtyard)

2 p.m. SWE Talent Show (auditorium)

3 p.m. The Furries (courtyard)

4 p.m. The Cool Tones (courtyard)


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