Hardin Valley Middle School celebrates the arts
Nancy Anderson, Shopper News
Parents and students gathered May 13 at Hardin Valley Middle School for a celebration of the arts. More than 200 works of art were on display.
Advanced Art teacher Stephanie Beiting said the whole fine arts department — including the band and chorus — were excited to have a show this year because the annual event was canceled last year by the pandemic.
“We’ve had to make a few modifications due to the pandemic. We’ll be outside this year. I’ve made displays out of coroplast that are pretty sturdy, but we’re still hoping for no wind and good weather.
“It’s actually a big celebration of the arts because we’ve invited the band, orchestra, and chorus. They’re very excited to join us. They’ll be performing outside in front of the entrance.”
Attendees seemed to particularly enjoy performances by the orchestra under the direction of Kathryn York and the chorus who, under the direction of Susie Whitinger, sang “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” by Randy Newman. The jazz band under the direction of Tyler Smith was popular, performing “Ketchup is Not a Spice” by Dean Sorenson. The percussion ensemble under the direction of Abigail Lyon kept toes tapping with “Crazy Dance” by Josh Walker.
“Everyone is excited for this year. We’re just happy to celebrate this big crazy year. Last year we did a digital show and sent it out to the parents, but it’s not the same as coming to the school with your child to see their work in person and hearing your child play music. It’s more visceral and more joyful in person,” said Beiting.
“My favorite part is meeting the parents. That’s the highlight of the year, bragging on the kids to their parents in person. You can actually see the child stand up taller.”
The art show featured work by the Advanced Art class spanning the entire school year. The students proudly displayed their projects including drawing, painting, ceramic art, felt art, sewing and everything in between.
Digital art teacher Robyn Marshall displayed artwork by her students, who learned how to make digital art using their Chromebooks.
Marshall teaches photography and digital editing. This was the first year digital photography was offered. The art department started the class with 12 new digital cameras.
Beiting said the digital art class was particularly popular among kids who are a little more technically inclined.
“Some kids just are not into drawing and painting. The photography class was just the thing for them. It was really cool to watch them blossom in this exciting new class.”
The class took extra effort on the part of the teachers because the equipment had to be cleaned between each student. The classes were small but powerful.
Beiting said fine arts is important in schools because it teaches the child creativity and problem solving.
“That’s the number one thing employers look for. Someone who is creative and can solve problems.”
City, senior center partner for ‘Senior’iffic Fun in the Park’
Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News
In many ways the coronavirus pandemic has been an “equal-opportunity disaster,” affecting people of all types, from all walks of life. That said, vulnerable populations in particular have suffered. Older people, for instance.
“This pandemic was primarily hitting seniors,” says Elaine Frank, deputy director of special events for the city of Knoxville. “They were very isolated. Their exercise classes were canceled, their senior centers were closed, they couldn’t see their family members and friends.”
Frank was pondering the problem when she ran across a Facebook video. “It was in a retirement home,” she says. “They were doing a class on those big exercise balls, and they were having the best time. And I thought, ‘we need to something like that for our seniors!’”
She and her department had previously offered “Kid A’ Riffic” — an outdoor event filled with games, activities and fun for children — and plan to do so again, in July of this year. She thought, why not offer a similar event for seniors?
Soon she was brainstorming with Calie Terry, manager of the John T. O’Connor Senior Center. “Senior’iffic Fun in the Park” was born.
Seniors register ahead of time to participate in a variety of events offered in 25-minute slots during two time frames, morning and afternoon. They can choose from movement-focused activities such as line dancing, tai chi and aerobics classes; and creative pursuits like painting, crafts and interactive music.
There’s even “Musical Easels,” an artistic version of “Musical Chairs,” during which each participant abandons the painting they started in order to move on to someone else’s in a continuous circle of collaboration, fun and — undoubtedly — surprises. “We want to give them some laughs and some smiles,” says Frank.
Terry says, “I am excited to be a part of some adaptive programming for our seniors that will provide a safe opportunity for friends to gather and be active.” Frank agrees. “We need to bring some joy to these seniors and give them a safe place to be outside and do something fun. Just some mental health and physical health — that was the thinking behind this.”
The kickoff for “Senior’iffic Fun in the Park” was planned for Wednesday, May 12 at Caswell Park, but rain and cold temperatures made it unfeasible. There was an event on May 19, and today — Wednesday, May 26 — is the final one in this series.
But there may be more to come. Frank says, “Maybe we could do this once a month! It could very easily turn into something bigger.”
Knoxville beyond the doctor offices
Leslie Snow, Shopper News
When the pandemic was raging and everything was closed, my parents saw only a small slice of Knoxville.
Mostly it was the slice from my house to their house, but sometimes, we’d expand our driving radius to include trips to their primary care physician or the eye doctor. Once they went to the podiatrist’s office and a couple times my dad went to the VA to have his hearing aids repaired.
Before they were vaccinated, their point of reference for understanding Knoxville was all in medical terms. “I’m going walking with Cheri,” I’d say to my mom.” “Where do you walk?” she’d want to know. And with no other way of explaining the location of Lakeshore Park, I’d answer, “It’s a little past the VA on the right.”
I described every destination by its proximity to a medical office. We got ice cream by the physical therapist, picked up pizza near the eye doctor, and ordered Chinese take-out from a restaurant just west of her family practitioner.
But over the past few weeks, as virus counts have gone down and more stores have opened up, my mom has begun to understand a side of Knoxville that exists outside her doctor’s offices and drive-through windows. And sometimes, she sounds like a genuine Knoxvillian.
Just the other day, when I took her out shopping for some new clothes, she turned to me and said, “It seems like you can get anywhere you need to go by following Kingston Pike.” I laughed and said, “Welcome to Knoxville. All roads lead to Kingston Pike.”
She noticed everyone wears “a certain shade of bright orange.”
Then she spotted all the banks and asked, “Why does a medium sized city have so many banks? There are as many banks here as there are churches.”
I didn’t have an answer, but I appreciated the observation.
On one recent excursion, I tried to broaden her horizons by introducing her to a few Knoxville treasures. She now understands the joy of Ham ‘n Goodys lemon iced cookies and Bruster’s black raspberry chocolate chunk ice cream.
She approves of both.
And on a day when the sky was blue and the air was crisp and clean, she said, “I spent my whole life in Cleveland, and I always thought we lived in a beautiful part of the country. But I had never experienced spring in Knoxville before. The leaves are such a vibrant shade of green. The lake and the mountains are stunning. I think this may be the prettiest place I’ve ever lived.” And I agreed.
But as an outsider who made Knoxville my home over 20 years ago, I was happy she noticed my favorite part about living here.
“I used to think, when we went out, that people were just being friendly because they knew you,” she said while we were doing some grocery shopping the other day. “But now I realize that the people here are just genuinely nice. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with strangers. Everyone is so friendly.”
My parents may miss the crusty rye bread we used to get at the Jewish bakeries in Cleveland. They may miss the traditional delis and the Cleveland Browns’ shade of orange, but they’ve come to appreciate Knoxville and the people here.
And I feel like I kept my promise when I told them that moving here would be good for them and they could be happy.
Even when the line at Bruster’s wraps around the building, they’re glad they live here.
Leslie Snow may be reached at snow [email protected]