ArtsLink: Take a Bow Class of 2012

By Jason Young on May 15, 2012 from A&E Blog via

May is an interesting month.

First of all, I have always found it a bit strange that the month shares its name with a word that we use every day: an auxiliary verb that can be used to express possibility, opportunity, permission, contingency, wish, or prayer.

Second of all, I have always thought of May as a gateway month or a month of transition. March brings us out of the winter, although my wife swears that it always snows on her birthday (March 7). April showers bring on the blooms for spring as the weather warms, the plans for summer begin to hatch as the days grow longer, and we all change the time on our clocks…and then we arrive at May.

Thirty-one days standing between us and summer. Between the snow and the cold and the rain and the dark of the previous four months and the sun and the warmth and the light and the relaxation and the rejuvenation of the next three months.

So, how do we spend that time? How do we mark the days and make May memorable? Well, for myself and for many, we finish and begin again; we put the old out and point ourselves toward the new. In a word, we graduate.

Of course I am speaking figuratively. I won’t be donning a cap or gown, and I won’t be walking across a stage to accept a diploma. But, in a way, as someone who works with youth at Bridgeport High School, when they move the tassel from one side of the cap to the other, those who have supported them, educated them, coached them, and guided them, take their own kind of journey with every passing class.

I am an arts advocate, so I think it is only appropriate that as the 205 members of the class of 2012 step ever closer to their time of pomp and circumstance that I take the time to acknowledge some of the artistic endeavors and achievements at Bridgeport High School this year.

The tradition of excellence in instrumental music continued within the band program led by Chris Hayslette.

The Jazz Ensemble received a superior rating at the Northern Regional Jazz Festival and was selected as the statewide Honor Finalist Jazz Ensemble for 2012. They also performed at the West Virginia Music Educators Conference in Morgantown.

The Symphonic Band received superior ratings from all three judges at the Region 10 Band Festival.

The band also had five students who received All-State Honors. Sarah Gustafson (trumpet) and Anna McKibben (trombone) were selected to the All-State Band, while Ethan Evans (trombone), Nicholas McKibben (trumpet), and Ben Wilson (percussion) were named to the All-State Orchestra.

Also, both Ethan Evans and Nicholas McKibben received superior ratings at the Solo and Ensemble Festival and both were selected to perform in the Honors Recital held at the West Virginia Music Educators Conference this past March.

The vocal music program, under the direction of Robin Bohn, was headlined by the Main Attraction Show Choir. The group participated in the Glee Give-A-Note Grant Competition and kept up an impressive live performance schedule that included Fall for the Arts at BHS, the Clarksburg Winterfest, Disney Waterside Stage in Orlando, Christmas at the Bridgeport Public Library, the Grafton Cavalcade, the WVMEA State Festival, and the All-County Expo.

However, the choir’s performance season is still incomplete. They have one more stop, a May 19 trip to Kennywood for the Music in the Park competition where last year the choir took first place in the high school show choir division with a superior rating and also the overall high school choir award.

The choir had three students receive All-State Honors and sing with the WVMEA All-State Chorus: Emily Bartlett, Kaitlyn Rollins, and Lori Williams.

Bridgeport High School fielded two dance teams this year.

The 15-member Danceline, under the direction of Cindy Timms Pulice and led by seniors Bryanna Moore and Rachel Hall, performed regularly at football and basketball games as well as participating in the Liberty Showcase for Danceline.

The 12-member Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Alicia Kinsey and lead by seniors Bryanna Moore, Rachel Hall, Chase Reeder, and Lauren Trupo, was adjudicated at the Morgantown Dance Festival and the West Virginia Dance Festival.

The theatre program produced its 37th consecutive season with Annie, Jr.; The Sound of Music; and Footloose. Combined, those shows saw more than 100 students participate both on stage, in the orchestras, and behind the scenes. The theatre apprentice program paired 16 students up with professional working artists.

Thespian Troupe 7549, under the direction of Jared St. Martin Brown, produced a one-act competition piece—Act III, Scene 5—that participated in the Region III Thespian Festival. The troupe sent 14 members to the West Virginia State Thespian Festival in Charleston, and seven of those students competed in various individual events with three students earning superior ratings and the right to compete at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska this June: Those students were Kody Mullins (solo musical theatre) and Maggie Ludwig and Brooke Cottrill (duet musical theatre).

Finally, the school’s legendary Journalism program was full of student success.

Alice Rowe entered her students in the WVU High School Journalism competition, which featured schools from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Bridgeport High School brought home 11 awards: Advertising – 1st place Rebekah Honce, 2nd place Victoria Stingo; Broadcasting – 2nd place Nicole Marton; Feature Layout – 1st place Maggie Baker, 2nd place Jonathan Griffith; Feature Writing - 1st place Rebekah Honce; Photography - 1st place Ben Queen, 3rd place Claire Marnic; Public Relations 1st place Nicole Marton, 2nd place Rebekah Honce, 3rd place Ally Herron.

I have been a guest artist at Bridgeport High School for the last four years. This will make this year’s commencement proceedings especially meaningful to me. The students who were but wide-eyed freshmen when I first arrived will be receiving their diplomas as proud young men and women.

Bridgeport is a special community, that shouldn’t be news to many, but for me what is most comforting is that my home is a safe and open place where art and its makers, especially the young ones, are welcomed, encouraged, and respected.

So, if I may, now that I have highlighted some of the accomplishments of this past year, let me finish by looking toward the future.

To the underclassmen artists at BHS let me challenge you to not be satisfied by following in the footsteps of those who came before you, but rather to plant one foot firmly in the tracks of your predecessors and then take the next step on to a new and untraveled path.

And finally to those graduating senior artists, let me leave you with my parting wish and prayer…

May the time you find to develop your talents be sacred and abundant.

May you be surrounded by people who encourage you in small and large ways.

May you develop a tough skin and a supple heart.

May you trust your creative process and express yourself with a true and unwavering voice.

May you be rewarded financially for all your efforts.

May any struggle you face make you stronger, so that you persevere and continue on the path.

May you grow in confidence, seeing clearly your value and worth.

May you be appreciated, in your lifetime, for the gift of healing you offer the world.

- A Blessing for All Artists Everywhere by Susan Gabriel

Editor's Note: Cover art is from the production of Footloose and was taken by Ben Queen of


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