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Feature: Bringing art to the community

By Eli Balisi and Brynne Albert

When COVID-19 first shut down schools across the country, one thing that was lost was a sense of community and creativity among students.

However, in spite of those difficulties, members of the National Art Honors Society here at BHS renewed efforts to improve the artistic quality of the school and build community through projects, initiatives, and volunteering.

Engaging in their usual activities, however, was incredibly difficult. 

“At one point, we couldn’t even meet together in person,” said NAHS co-president Sydney Short. “We had to do it over Meets. And, obviously, we couldn’t really do much as a community.”

Even though these difficulties limited their ability to engage in their usual activities, they believed that some value was gained. 

“I think we got to be a lot closer,” Short said. “We got to spread out into new experiences because there was a point where it kind of got into a schedule, where each year felt the same way. And because of COVID, we definitely had to change it up so much, and it was for the better I think.” 

Short smiled when asked about the opportunities that arose because of the new conditions. 

“Because we couldn’t do much volunteering in our community, because of COVID, the school kinda helped us with that, and they offered to let us paint murals for the school.”

Other members of NAHS spoke to their efforts to make the school a more vibrant place amid these difficult times. 

“For example, we did the door decorations in January and for Halloween, we made drawings for an elementary school teacher,” said Itzel Duran. Her face lit up when describing her personal goals with the group: “I hope to be able to inspire other people and bring some joy to BHS through art!”

Ella Villacreses, another member of NAHS, emphasized the ability of the group’s initiatives to strengthen the art program at BHS, particularly during this difficult time. 

“Teachers and students can see a successful after-school event or see pieces of art in the halls and gain a personal connection via artwork! Positively associating beauty and success with NAHS allows for more people to gain interest in the art program,” she said. 

Others also reinforced this idea of community:  “Personally, I get a sense of community and get to hang out with my friends who also enjoy art because of these events,” Duran said. When asked about the benefits of strengthening the art community, Villacreses said “I just love seeing how everyone reacts when something new happens in the club, it’s so fun to be in a room surrounded with the most creative people who all want to help spread their artwork in different ways!” Her enthusiasm was evident with her bright tone of voice.

Another benefit brought by NAHS to its members was the value of personal projects. 

“Personally I’ve done door decorating, free art Friday, I’m currently designing a mural for the music wing – stuff like that,” said Norah Thurow. “I hope that my art leaves a positive impact on the school. I’m very excited about my mural. I personally like seeing art on the walls. It makes the school look less like a prison, so if I can add to that I’ll be happy.”

During the difficult times brought on by the pandemic, NAHS has found ways to strengthen their bonds with each other and make not just BHS a brighter and more vibrant place, but the district and community. 

“We are looking towards reaching out to the younger kids, and bringing the art community more together as a whole,” Short said.

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