Celebrating the arts at the Art Showcase

On March 23rd, at 6 pm, the celebration for our second annual Art Showcase was held in the lobby and auditorium of our school, with free admissions for all. The event was organized by Highland, in partnership with the Friends of Highland Arts (FHA), and a combined effort of arts, band, choir, and theater students. Highland’s Choir and Theater instructor, Kate Mendenhall, was the point person who organized the event this year, and is hoping to for this to become a tradition at HPSH.

Friends of Highland Arts (FHA) is a local non-profit group that works closely with the schools, and Highland community, to promote and further the arts in our community. They were also a tremendous help in organizing and promoting the show.

The afternoon was splendidly filled with the art of music. Stage performances in the auditorium began around 7 pm, featuring our Jazz Band, Honors Orchestra, Tremble Choir, Honors Choir, and Symphonic Band. Each of the groups performed works from their past and upcoming concerts. Some of the titles played by the Honors Band included “Adagio” by David R Holsinger and “Symphonic Dance No.3” by Clifton Williams.

Not only that, the cast of the musical, Lucky Stiff, also made an appearance at the showcase with a snippet of their upcoming spring musical which will be held on April 21-23. The Highland Theater Friends and Family were also fundraising in support for HPSH Theater. Other featured art included, Ramona White from our school’s Speech Team, who performed on stage with her creative piece.

“I feel like this event was a huge success,” said Ms. Mendenhall. “All of the groups performed really well and seemed like they were having a great time participating. Most of the times, performing groups do not get to listen to other performing groups, so it was nice that they could listen to their peers at an event like this.”

The showcase was the perfect opportunity for both our fellow peers and community to expose themselves to the talents and arts offered at Highland. During the night, students were able to present their works to the community and be appreciated for their efforts in the arts and freedom of expression. Not only was this event a wonderful source of entertainment for the open audience, but it was also a rewarding experience for our students and teachers who contributed to the show. “The most rewarding thing for me is to be able to let my students experience all different types of art,” said Ms. Mendenhall. “In choir, a lot of our focus goes into choral and vocal music. I really like that my students are able to see what other talent is here at HPSH.”

The overall Art Showcase was met with great praise from our community as well. This was evident in Ms. Mendenhall’s comment, “I noticed that community members and families really like that we provided a ‘one stop shop’ – meaning they could hear and see all of what Highland Park has to offer in our fine arts department in one night.”

Featured outside of the auditorium were the large white panels, collapsible doors, and tables filled with the collection of works from about 20 IB Visual art students. The majority of these student will use these collective pieces from both their junior and senior year to submit to IB later this month. Each of their works were linked with a cohesive theme, with their own unique sense of style. This part of the showcase itself is considered to be a huge new step for the art department, as this was Highland’s first year reserving an organized space for an art gallery of students’ masterpieces.

“The event was a huge success, despite the snowy afternoon,” said art teacher, Keri Schultz. “The gallery and audience was very full. People were excited about the wide variety of art styles that students shared.” The Saint Paul District arts coordinator, Jan Spencer Gutierrez, also showed up for the celebration.

The art gallery was a new component for IB Visual Art students, and provided students with an opportunity to first-hand experience a live art show. Mrs. Schultz also noted that the most rewarding aspect was allowing students to plan out their methods of visual presentation by finding desirable locations, lighting, and completing pre-hangings to create purpose for the organization of art collection.

“I also liked how students personalized the way they presented the titles for their work. Mazzy put her labels on rocks, which really made her environmental theme come through in a visual way.  I also think that Highland complex and the Friends of Highland Arts were able to further develop our relationship, and that was very positive.”

A total of 15 under the sea watercolor paintings, from students of Highland Park Elementary, also contributed to the visual art gallery. As a group project, elementary student also created a sculpture made up of lights, plastic bottle caps, and paint, resembling a Dale Chihuly type sculpture. Along with that, there were 10 figure drawings from the middle school students. As for our high school students, they contributed 30 self-portrait paintings, 40 sculptures, and tiles from the ceramics students.

Some of Mrs. Schultz’s hopes and goals for the future of Highland’s Art Showcase is to incorporate more activity tables to engage the youth of our community, and have them share their art as a part of our community. “I think it might be fun to have high school students there to teach techniques or little projects to other people (young and old) from our communities.” The art department is also hoping to seek more grant money for permanent lighting solutions in the space of display.

Similarly, Ms. Mendenhall also has hopes for the future of the Arts Showcase to be an event that HPSH students look forward to attending, not just families and community members. “I think this is a great way to support your peers in their artistic endeavors, and maybe even become involved with a group yourself!”

“In terms of the art, I was just really proud of how nicely students were able to share their creative efforts,” Mrs. Schultz said. “I also wanted to thank Kate Mendenhall for being the liaison between Highland and FHA Friends of Highland. It went great!”


  1. Thank you PLAID LINE for this nice article about the Arts Showcase. We are honored to partner with HPSH students and staff to provide this opportunity for students to showcase their artistic and creative talents to each other, their families and community. We look forward to working on this event next year, and helping it grow in scope, attendance and fundraising capacity.
    Friends of Highland Arts

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