High school transforms into multimedia art gallery for Festival of the Senses

On May 12 & 13, the high school cafeteria was overwhelmed with easels, canvases, and sculptures. Visible in the photo are works by Delaney Hackman and Piper Sluyter, among others. Photo taken by Sydney Rotigel-Finegan.

The swirlingly colorful signs advertising Gull Lake’s Festival of the Senses formed what seemed a gallery of their own in the weeks preceding May 12 & 13. When it came time for art to overtake the cafeteria, the Choir and Winter Percussion’s musical efforts to fill the gym, and One Act plays to take place within the black box theater, the posters had done their job and the community came out in droves.

” …Every year we’ve had it the community’s shown steady support and not just the parents of the students involved-obviously there’s that support-but I think it’s larger than that,” art teacher Randy Walbridge said. “…I think attendance has been steady but it seems up this year. It seems like both nights have been very well received and there’s a lot of enthusiasm. It’s encouraging.”

Walbridge has played a role in the Festival since it originated.

“Robin Nott came up with the idea 9 or 10 years ago and talked to the music department employee at the time and myself and we said “That sounds like a great idea, let’s do it!’,” Walbridge said.

According to Walbridge, the first Festival was a great success and the event has been hosted every year since. Why? Walbridge is insistent when it comes to the importance of celebrating the artistic endeavors of students.

“It gives the students the chance to see that the community does support the arts and support their efforts in the arts,” Walbridge said.

“It’s a huge venue for the arts as a whole within the community. It’s very grassroots, very community oriented, very support your local school and your local students, and also I think broader than that too.”- Walbridge


Walbridge is not alone in his opinion. Of course many parents of students featured somewhere within the Festival come, but they are accompanied by other members of the community and peers eager to support their classmates.

“I wanted to come see what everybody else has been doing with their talents and support my friends,” senior Evan Smith said.

Destiny Petersen as Aster in the one act play L.O.V.E. (directed by Ethan Liggett and Riley Beronja) is counseled by her Heart (Emma Scheller) and her Brain (Mackenzie Jonas). Photo taken by Sydney Rotigel-Finegan

He planned on seeing a few one acts his friends were in, the first of which was Let Our Voices Echo (L.O.V.E.). Directed by Ethan Liggett and Riley Beronja, the play follows Aster and Josh as they awkwardly maneuver a budding relationship with the help of their somewhat trustworthy hearts and brains.  Having rehearsed every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the previous month, the actors-including Mackenze Jonas as Aster’s Brain-were very proud of the work they put into the production.

“I think we did so well, honestly,” Jonas said. “Oh my god, I’m blown away by everybody and how well they did. Everyone is such an angel and they have so much talent. They did such a beautiful job-I’m gonna start crying, I’m getting emotional.”

Somewhat staggered between One Acts were performances by the Gull Lake Choir, Winter Percussion, and Winter Guard.

Following the final one act play on Saturday and wrapping up the Festival was the announcement of visual art award recipients. Senior Delaney Hackman and junior Sydney Rotigel-Finegan received runner-up awards, while senior Riley Beronja came in first for both the people’s choice and juror’s awards (for her Self Portrait and Cheshire Cat pieces respectively).

“Definitely didn’t expect that! I didn’t expect to win one, so winning two was insane,” Beronja said.

She explained that she has classes with Mr. Walbridge, who definitely pushes the art. Since she herself always enjoys looking at people’s art, Beronja figured she may as well submit the two pieces she had.

For the foreseeable future at least, Festival of the Senses will continue to provide Gull Lake students with this chance to showcase their artistic accomplishments, and their community the chance to appreciate them.

Check out the full article including audio on the GLHS Reflection website.



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