Gala to Celebrate High School Artists

By Beacon Staff

High school athletes regularly – and rightly – enjoy recognition and support for their sporting accomplishments. But a fundraising gala on Thursday seeks to showcase those Flathead and Glacier high school students talented in different ways: through their achievements in the performing arts, visual arts and speech and debate.

The “Evening of Fine Arts” is the second community fundraiser by the Kalispell Education Foundation, with proceeds benefiting students at Kalispell public schools and the Flathead Valley Community College Art department.

“Because we have so many talented students in our district and because we have these talented instructors, they’re able to pull this talent from our kids,” Anna Marie Bailey, a board member on the Education Foundation and one of the gala’s lead organizers, said. “It’s just a nice way to showcase some of our students.”

Flathead High students will perform an excerpt from the musical, “The Pajama Game.” Glacier High students will perform the 10-minute play, “Poof!” The evening’s entertainment will also include a cello performance, as well as musical numbers from Flathead’s choraliers group.

A percentage of the proceeds from the event will also help provide partial scholarships for FVCC’s semester in Italy program, and Bailey praised the event for benefitting both K-12 and secondary education in the valley. The college’s culinary arts program will prepare appetizers and desserts for the event, and Bailey promises “a couple surprises for those attending.”

Events like the “Evening of Fine Arts” used to be sponsored by the booster club, but when Kalispell split its high schools into Flathead and Glacier, “it just got difficult to wrap your hands around it,” Bailey explained, and there haven’t been many events dedicated to supporting the arts programs in recent years.

The Kalispell Education Foundation is renewing that effort however, by making grants available to teachers attempting to do something different and creative, but who may lack the funds to tackle certain projects.

“We’re in this time when we’re having to cut funding,” Bailey said. “It gives the opportunity to give that little spark into the curriculum.”

Grants from the foundation recently paid for a project by Kalispell Middle School sixth-graders who wrote news stories published in the Beacon as the “Jigsaw Journalists.” Susan Guthrie, a Flathead High art teacher, described other uses for the grants, like a field trip to the art museum in Browning, where added funds are needed for transportation and admission fees. The grants have also helped pay for a student GPS system, programs for autistic children and library and technology resources.

Guthrie regularly has her students participate in what’s called a “memory project,” where Kalispell art students accept photos of young orphans from different parts of the world. The students then do portraits of the orphans based on the photos, and mail them back to the kids with a photo of the artist taped to the back, and words of encouragement. While the added cost of the project is minimal, the grants help.

“It’s $15, and there’s a lot of kids who don’t have $15,” Guthrie said. “It’s just a wonderful, wonderful thing.”

As of last week, Guthrie had a varied selection of paintings and sculptures by her students she was preparing to display in the FVCC community room for the night of the event.

“It’s celebrating the excellence in the School District 5 arts programs,” Guthrie said. “It’s a way to honor those students that might not otherwise be noticed.”

“It’s their time to shine,” she added.

The “Evening of Fine Arts” gala is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 3. Beer and wine will be available. Tickets are on sale at Bonelli’s Bistro, the Hockaday Museum, and the main offices of Flathead and Glacier High for $40.

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