(Photo by Meg O'Neil)
By Meg O’Neil
Every year, students at Rogers High School participate in the annual Arts Showcase, a two-day workshop where area artists provide an instructional glimpse into their profession and demonstrate to students what kind of artistic opportunities are available. This year, the Arts Showcase took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 12-13.
Rogers alum Marlo Wyant developed the idea for the Showcase in 2007, as part of a mentoring project during her senior year of high school.
The blueprint has not strayed too far from Wyant’s original plan. First, there’s a presentation -- usually a musical performance. On Tuesday, it was “Music of Ghana” by Obuamah Addy and Norchemi. Afterwards, juniors and seniors return to their regular class schedule while freshmen and sophomores attend workshops featuring a range of area artists.
The following day’s schedule featured the Musica Dolce Piano Quintet. Then the freshmen and sophomores returned to class while juniors and seniors got their chance to participate in workshops.
“It’s very important to us that the workshops are student-selected rather than randomly assigned,” said Alan Bernstein, arts supervisor for Newport Public Schools. “That way, they’re learning about their point of interest. The point of the Arts Showcase is to make sure students are aware of opportunities in the arts both in the school setting and in the area.”
Besides the drumming workshop by Addy and Norchemi, other artist workshops included a demonstration from Joe Parillo, a jazz pianist and composer representing the music department from the University of Rhode Island; the Navy Band Northeast Brass Quintet; Nora Rabins, a design and sculpture artist; local author Michael Dutton; State Representative and musician Peter Martin; improvisational comedy by the Bit Players; Peter Dickison, portraiture; artists representing the Newport Art Museum; the Rogers Theatre Company; and Miki Ohlsen of the Island Moving Co. dance company.
Bernstein estimates that 30 percent of students at Rogers participate in the school’s arts programs, and he believes the arts showcase has an impact.
“They get that ‘a-ha’ moment where they think, ‘I can do this,’ or ‘Wow, I always loved this, but now I know I can make a living at this,’” he said.