The art of expression

Lives of seniors inspired by the arts through a variety of mediums

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I feel that involvement in the arts, whether it is dance, choir, band, art, or speech is integral to our society. Fine arts provide students with countless non-academic benefits, such as promoting self-confidence, motivation, and creativity,” band teacher Kristin Rode said. “The arts can also teach students to connect to each other better and can reach students not normally reached in a typical classroom. All of which are incredibly important in our ever changing world!”
The lives of many seniors have been greatly impacted by the arts as they make plans to continue a life of music and art after they graduate.
“I’m going into art education after high school,” senior Megan Mantonya said. “I just love doing art so it’s a win-win honestly. The schooling is very long, but I’ll be all right.”
Mantonya is taking a drawing and painting class, though she has been involved in art and music since elementary school, inspired by artists such as Van Gogh and her favorite painting of his, “Starry Night.” Mantonya’s favorite piece that she has created was her colored pencil portrait of her sister’s husky.
“I just love how beautiful it [‘Starry Night’] is,” Mantonya said, “it reminds me of lying on the ground or on a hay bale and just looking up to the stars. It inspires me to make stuff like he did and makes me strive to do more. It makes me work harder to get better at painting and art.”
“Megan never gives up. The reason her artwork is amazing is she will push herself to do her best. She never looks at something and thinks its too much,” art teacher Jennifer Greene said.
While some seniors will not have a career directly tied into the arts, they will still continue to be involved with it as they take certain classes or participate on their own time.
“I plan to take some class in July. I’m planning to learn how to silversmith and wire wrap, and learn how to make more baskets and stuff like that,” senior Caitlin Dudenhoeffer said. Dudenhoeffer has plans to become a teacher for younger children after she graduates.
Senior Allison Thomas is already signed up for the OTC [Ozark Technical College] choir.
“I’ve been in choir since fourth grade, I like singing because it makes me happy and it’s fun,” she said.
“Allison has been a consistent force to be reckoned with her entire high school career. However, she does it with humility and grace,” vocal music teacher Deanna Schockmann said. “We will miss her presence!”
However, classes are not for everyone and they must choose whether or not to continue with art or music on their own.
“I will not be in any band classes in college,” senior Victoria Esser said, “I will still practice on my own and I’ve talked to Ms. Rode and she said that I might be able to come back and play with them in pep band, but my focus is getting into the nursing program and getting my RNBS (Registered Nurse Bachelor’s of Science). I’m not doing anything with music, which sucks, but it is what it is.”
Esser tried out for the State Fair Community College Jazz Band and made top chair, viewing the audition as a way to branch out in something new and see if she would be interested in a musical career. Esser plays various instruments as part of the WHS band including flute, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, guitar, and percussion.
“I didn’t know how to play an instrument until sixth grade, nobody knows how to play an instrument when they first start; you’re not born knowing how to play an instrument. If you are, you’re pretty cool, but Mozart learned, Beethoven learned, so if you want to do it, then do it,” Esser said.
Senior Shelby Dunnam has been in band since sixth grade, playing the trombone, trumpet and her main instrument: the tuba.
“I like to freak people out when they find out that I’m a girl playing the tuba because it should be a guy’s instrument,” Dunnam said. “I want to be a good role model and show them [underclassmen and little kids] that they can do the same things that I can do; that it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl, you can still play the tuba, you can learn, and you can have fun.”
Dunnam attended the State Small Ensemble Music Festival for band on April 25 where she received a gold rating for tuba solo.
“When I found out that I got a one, I was actually on the phone with my dad and I told him that I had to get off of the phone so I could check my score and I was scrolling through Facebook. Miss Rode had posted on there, and I saw that I got a Gold and I dropped my phone, and almost broke it,” Dunnam said. “I wanted to scream but I couldn’t because there were a whole bunch of people around. I was so happy, I started crying.”
Senior Autumn Long also attended the State Festival as a member of the Warsaw Flute Trio, Long primarily plays the flute and the saxophone and performs the duties of drum major.
“I wanted to become a teacher for band so I started learning every instrument, but I really haven’t learned any brass, like the trombone, or anything like that, so it’s something that I’d really like to learn,” Long said. “I would also really like to learn string instruments, like violin and all that, but we don’t have that here.”
In November of 2018, Long auditioned for the District band and was inducted into the Honorable Mention Band.
“It was Mr. Johnson who pushed me into trying all these things and I knew that I could be better at what I’m doing. I try to do the best that I can, so I audition for literally everything that I can,” Long said. “I want people to remember me as someone who tried everything and was able to do it and inspired other people to do it too – to be remembered as a go-getter, I guess.”
Being involved with the arts for the majority of their lives, many lessons have been learned that taught the seniors something about the world that they live in.
“Art teaches us to be patient and wait for the end result. You start from very little and you grow into something way bigger than that,” Mantonya said.
“Band teaches you respect, honor, and loyalty to your peers, because we’re a band family so we stick up for each other,” Esser said.
“There are so many things that band has taught me about my character, especially being drum major; it puts me in a leadership position and teaches me how to teach other people and how to connect with other people than just playing an instrument,” Long said. “It helped with a lot of aspects of working together and just being a family.”

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