Artsfest provides time for creativity, relaxation

Artsfest 2020
Through over 100 workshops led by other students, faculty and guests, students explored different types of art and tried new activities during Artsfest on Feb. 27. 

Dance Troupe kicked off the opening ceremony, and teams participating in the Hunt competed against each other in guessing song titles and playing Pictionary. Cheered on by classmates, representatives from each grade level played “Just Dance,” where sophomore Erik Sveen Erling earned a victory. 

While participating in workshop activities, students gained new experiences. 

Ninth grader William Kraemer tried ribbon dancing for the first time in Dual Ribbon Dancing led by English teacher Sari Hernandez.

“I was just randomly assigned to do this, and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be cool or anything, but it was actually really really fun,” William said. 

Ms. Hernandez said she danced in high school and wanted to create a dance opportunity for students during Artsfest. 

“I think ribbon dancing is definitely something we don’t think of as often, so I wanted to show them a different type of dance,” Ms. Hernandez said. 

Similarly, world language teacher Frances Spaltro introduced a different way of being present and in the moment during Teatime for Mindfulness. 

Sophomore Andrew Swinger said the tea workshop was much more enjoyable than when speakers advocate for mindfulness in an auditorium. 

“I’m trying new teas. I really enjoy this and I’m probably going to do this at home,” Andrew said. “This workshop inspired me.”

One of the new workshops included Intro to Design led by University of Illinois at Chicago students Heather Tran and Michael Diaz, who work for the Chicago-based nonprofit Advanced Design. U-High participants brainstormed and designed products to tackle hypothetical natural disasters. 

Ms. Tran said, “By exposing you guys to what design could be and taking you guys through the process, we were hoping it could inspire you to be more curious about design as a profession.”

From the outside looking into what the board does, you never truly understand how much they do

— Donna Tong, member of Artsfest board

Math teacher Paul Gunty will retire at the end of the school year, and he ran Make and Take an Apple Pie for the last time. 

Mr. Gunty said, “I like to see kids working with their hands like that because I suspect most of them don’t do much work in the kitchen.”

Sophomore Thomas O’Connor participated in the workshop and made a pie from scratch except for the bottom crust Mr. Gunty prepared. 

“I had a lot of fun making pies with Mr. Gunty,” Thomas said. “I love baking and making stuff with my hands, and it’s nice to be able to bring something home and eat it afterwards.”

Senior Donna Tong, who is in charge of finances on the Artsfest board, said she decided to become involved in planning Artsfest after creating the workshop Card Throwing to share one of her passions with others. 

“From the outside looking into what the board does, you never truly understand how much they do,” Donna said, reflecting on the preparation process. 

Artsfest ended with a performance featuring musician and producer with the stage name Bardo. Stephen Bardo is a 2010 U-High graduate.

Reflecting on the purpose of Artsfest, Thomas said, “It’s important that art is always in the curriculum, and it allows students a break and time to exercise their creativity.”