By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Artsplosion, an annual celebration of the fine arts, began with a "VarietyFest" Monday evening showcasing the talents of Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) students.
Stocks Elementary Chorus, under the direction of Katie Schultz, was the first group to hit the stage of the Keihin Auditorium on Edgecombe Community College’s Tarboro campus. The second and third grade students sang songs centering on the theme “music is everywhere.” Several students spiced up the performance by playing cowbells, guiros, shakers and maracas during one of the songs.
The upbeat theme continued as Becky Johnson then led the G.W. Carver Elementary School chorus in songs ranging from the patriotic “We Celebrate America” to the spiritual “Go Down, Moses” to the motivational tune “It Starts With Me.”
“We’re changing the world, one person at a time. We’re making it better, don’t you see…” the students in the Carver chorus sang.
The Coker Wimberly Elementary String Ensemble brought a different flavor to the show, playing the well-known childhood tunes “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
“This is the biggest performance of their music lives right now,” said Stephan Pryor, ensemble director. “I think we should give them a hand.”
The final performance of the night was a tribute to the “King of Pop” Michael Jackson by the West Edgecombe Middle Dance Group. The group brought the 1980’s dance sensation “Thriller” to life for audiences and came back on stage for a dance rendition to “Man in the Mirror.”
“We’re bringing a couple of generations together tonight with Michael Jackson,” said dance group director Susan Nguyen. “Everybody appreciates Michael Jackson. He usually brings a lot of unity with his songs.”
“Going back old school” got the seventh and eighth grade students listening to and appreciating genres of music other than today’s hip-hop, said Nguyen. The cheers that the group received are proof that the audience enjoyed the performance as much as the 1980’s clad dancers.
“I’m very proud. Their hard work has really paid off,” Nguyen said.
“I think this is just the beginning of a great week,” said Sherita Cobb, director of secondary education/K-12 fine arts coordinator for ECPS. “It’s really been good tonight. I’m really impressed with these kids.”
Cobb said the Artsplosion “brings life to learning for kids. “It’s an exceptional thing we have going on here and we just need to support it and support our kids in their creativity.”
The Artsplosion continued Tuesday evening with the Ann P. Cobb Choral Fest. A BandFest featuring the middle school honors band and high school all county band is slated for 7 p.m. Thursday in the Keihin Auditorium.
Student created visual arts will be on display in the Mobley Atrium, just outside the Keihin Auditorium, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and tomorrow.
Dazzala Knight, art teacher at Tarboro High School, expressed her pride in her students’ work after Monday night’s VarietyFest.
“I have so many talented students and they strive to do their best,” said Knight. “I always try to let the students know that it’s about expressing themselves through the work. ...I think art is a way for the students to express who they are.”
One of Knight’s students, 12th grader Shaquashia Thigpen, expressed herself by drawing a silhouette of herself with ocean-themed drawings within the silhouette. She received a first-place award for an abstract drawing entitled “Pencil Bird Project.”
“She’s really talented,” said Knight.
Winner of best in show for high school was Christopher Medford, an 11th grader at SouthWest Edgecombe High School, for a ceramic rendering of an outhouse. Other winners of best in show were Cristian Velasco, an eighth grader at Phillips Middle School, for a piece of artwork depicting fruit, and Vanessa Chen, a fifth grader at W.A. Pattillo School, for a collage.