WOOD RIVER JUNCTION — The skies Saturday may have been spitting rain, but inside Chariho Regional High School and Middle School there was a burst of color and sound at the district’s 22nd annual Artessy! event.
Students, families and local residents packed the hallways, auditorium and classrooms of the campus buildings to view and celebrate the district’s artistic and vocational talents.
“I’m just so amazed at what they can do,” said Julianna Golas, a Richmond resident and mother of four. “When I see the artwork, I know they didn’t get their talent from me, or else it would be all stick figures up there.”
With a son in high school and a daughter in the middle school band, Golas said she and her family have been coming to Artessy! for at least five years to see their children’s work.
“We tend to tout athletes in schools a lot, I think,” Golas said. “It’s nice for kids with other talents to have their chance to shine.”
Lisa Gervasini, a resource teacher in the district, added that the event provided an outlet for older students to connect with younger students in the district, particularly in her classroom, which was converted into a face-painting station.
“It allows the older kids to really be role models,” said Gervasini, who has worked in Chariho for 26 years and attended all 22 Artessy! events. “It’s always a fun experience. The students change, but there’s something unique and special about this event that remains the same, year after year.”
Though the event has become a tradition for many local families and residents, it was second-grader Nate Ballard’s first time attending and participating.
In a classroom filled with airplanes and catapult models built by technical education students, Ballard pointed excitedly at the brightly colored figures, pulling his father with him to inspect more closely.
“I definitely want to do these,” he told his father, Sean Ballard, pointing to the airplanes.
The Richmond 7-year-old and his two sisters also had their own artwork featured in the school gymnasium.
“Everything is so great, I can’t pick a favorite,” Nate Ballard said.
Farther down the hallway, strains of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” brought a crowd of listeners to gather around the piano and the high school women’s choral group, The Fermatas.
The name of the group comes from the musical symbol, which represents a hold or pause in a note, explained sophomore member Caitlyn Lampert.
“The idea is that we all hold each other up, and support each other,” she said.
Though Lampert said her participation in Artessy! dates back to fifth grade, this was her first year with The Fermatas. Lampert estimated the group spent about three months practicing for the event, rehearsing songs and formations for their performance.
“The whole event is really awesome,” Lampert said. “It really lets us showcase our talent.”
The event also featured raffles and gift baskets, as well as food samplings from the culinary arts students, band performances, visual art from all grades, hairstyling from the cosmetology students and a wide array of demonstrations.
The event began on Friday night with the time-honored Kansas City Buffet, the only event that charges a fee. The money will allow students in the career and technical programs to attend the SkillsUSA national conference in Kansas City, Mo., this summer.
Friday’s events also included a concert by the Chariho High School Chorus, while Saturday’s all-day offerings provided a variety of artistic renderings.