This weekend, the students of McGaugh Elementary will bring art to life through the 29th annual Pageant of the Arts, an event that highlights the work of artists through paintings, music and dance.
At the event, the fourth- and fifth-graders of McGaugh Elementary will theatrically present large-scale versions of classical paintings. The students each contribute to the creation of the piece.
Each year, the pageant features a new artist, and this year’s is Albrecht Durer, a German Renaissance artist. The work that the students replicated is his “View from Arco,” which will debut at Friday night’s performance.
At the performance, students will feature paintings from previous pageants and help to continue a tradition that showcases student work and illustrates the school’s commitment to arts education.
“[Arts education] creates a well-rounded child,” said Karen Ferretti, media center specialist at McGaugh Elementary. “It’s more than just academics. Art helps kids think.”
At McGaugh Elementary, students have the district’s only full-time, credentialed arts teacher, Terrill Epps. Epps said that every year, she incorporates the pageant’s artist into her curriculum, and students learn about the artist, his or her style and how to replicate and draw inspiration from their work.
Epps said that over time, she’s seen how the pageant has become a community event that permanently links the students to the McGaugh community. The experience, she said, is what has made the pageant so successful over the years and what continues to drive students to participate in the event.
“[The students] know they are making history and that their work is going to last when they move on,” Epps said. “It makes them a part of something bigger than themselves.”
Although participation in the pageant is voluntary, Ferretti says, nearly 75 percent of the school’s fourth- and fifth-graders volunteer to be a part of the event. The fourth-graders narrate a brief biography of the artist, and the fifth-graders perform a dance routine that is inspired from the painting being presented. The students begin practicing months before and must commit to a practice schedule that includes missing occasional recesses.
For some students, though, the experience is worth sacrificing a recess or two.
“I had to practice a lot and it was hard, but it was also fun,” said fifth-grader Daisy Munoz, 10, who will be dancing during the presentation of Willie Seaweed’s art.
Ferretti said she expects this year’s event to be “fabulous,” and with only a few tickets, it appears that the community agrees.
7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Media Center.