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Fennville High School Celebrates the Arts

The arts programs at Fennville High School decided to take the show on the road, joining choir, band, and visual arts programs for a one-evening festival at the Jack H. Miller Center for the Musical Arts on the campus of Hope College Wednesday, May 15 at 7 pm.

A variety of students with musical instruments The event was created to showcase the talented students and successful programs in the arts at Fennville High School, one of the recognized leaders in arts education in West Michigan. The band and choir programs regularly place at the top of music festivals in the region, and every year students from the band and choir programs are selected from Fennville to participate in top Michigan band and choir events, such as the Michigan School Vocal Music Association.

The visual arts program at Fennville High School has also been recognized recently, with students placing work and winning awards in area art shows, and teacher Sharon Stratton even named Michigan High School Art Teacher of the Year last school year.

The showcase was also an opportunity to bring back Fennville graduates who continued to study and perform music after graduation, to perform with the current high school band, and to also feature performances by nationally recognized soloists, concluding the show with combined grand finale performance of “America the Beautiful”, featuring Staff Sergeant Kevin Maloney of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, the premier musical organization of the United States Army since 1922.

Fennville band and choir teachers Paul Andrews and Jocelyn Leonard conceived of the idea while attending the Michigan Music Education conference in the fall and saw large high school ensembles on stage combining instrumental and vocal music. At the conference, Andrews said he and Leonard decided that Fennville could and should do the same thing.

“When Jocelyn and I attended the state music association honors concert in the fall, we looked at each other and said we can do this in Fennville,” Andrews said. “But we knew we needed a bigger stage to fit all our musicians together. And once we started thinking of it as a festival, we knew we had to showcase our amazing visual artists, too. Showcasing the talent of our students in the beautiful setting of the Hope College stage is another way for us to tell the Fennville story, which includes excellent arts programs.”

Leonard agreed that the bigger stage at Hope College will give long-time supporters and first-time concert goers a chance to truly appreciate the talent of our students.

“We are excited that the entire arts program at Fennville will be represented in the same space,” Leonard said. “At Fennville High School, we are cohesive. We are a true arts community. I think the people who come to the show are going to see the amazing quality of the arts programs and the true success of all of our kids making and sharing art in Fennville.”


Author: Corey Harbaugh, Fennville Public schools