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E. HOLMES DISTRICT -- Giving praise to the district's fine arts program and sharing their talents, Winesburg students Gus Johnson and Gracie Keim broke into song at March 21's board of education meeting.
Both will appear in an upcoming production of "Seussical." In the musical, Johnson, the sixth-grade son of Matt and Holley Johnson, plays Horton the elephant. Keim, the fifth-grade daughter of Larry and Rita Keim, plays Gertrude, a bird with a one-feathered tail.
The musical will be performed at Hiland High School on May 15, 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., and 16, 7 p.m., at Hiland High School. It stars 59 fourth-sixth-grade students from Winesburg Elementary.
The performance is part of "Seussational," a year-long study of Dr. Seuss and the arts, funded by a grant from the Ohio Arts Council, according to Winesburg Principal Dan McKey, who introduced both students to the board and, in recognition of March as Fine Arts Month, spoke to the value of fine arts throughout the district.
"Some day, you may need to make an important decision about the arts," said McKey, noting, "For some (students), it's the reason why they love school. For others, it helps with reading and math."
Before the board, Johnson and Keim not only sampled a selection from the musical, but offered praise for art teacher Mary Gilmore and band director Beth Barnes.
"It's amazing they can both go to every school. They always made it fun and interesting to learn how to play interesting," according to Johnson, who plays trumpet in the school band.
Keim said she loves how Gilmore, while students busy themselves with their own projects, draws on the board. "It's so good," she said.
Gilmore, who teaches art at several elementary schools in the district, gave the board a brief overview of her work and thanked members of the board for their continued support of visual and musical arts.
She referred to herself as "your 'average' East Holmes elementary art teacher, working with 500- students in 23 classes in three buildings every week.
Echoing the sentiments of McKey, Gilmore said, for many students "art and music are the best part of their day."
"They can express their thoughts and feelings," she said, noting the fine arts "enrich students' lives and practice of creativity. Creativity is important," she said, pointing to a group of students who are likely to face, as adults, "challenges we cannot envision."
"It will require creativity and grit to be successful," said Gilmore, who said she works daily not only to encourage excellence, but strives to inspire the students.
Applauding the efforts of McKey, Gilmore, Barnes and all district staff who engage students in fine arts instruction, Superintendent Erik Beun told the board, "This is just a small sliver of the fine art that are happening in the district."
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.