Building self confidence through art
Marist High event helps students believe in themselves
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Apr 09, 2014 | 1608 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BIGGER THAN HIM – Senior Jose Olona of Bayonne stands in front of his abstract creation, which took one and a half months to complete.
BIGGER THAN HIM – Senior Jose Olona of Bayonne stands in front of his abstract creation, which took one and a half months to complete.
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For Marist High students, the school’s Arts Festival on April 4 wasn’t about being judged for prizes or selling a piece. It was about recognition and about feeling good about themselves and the pieces they had created.

The 11th annual extravaganza this year focused on “Visionary Impression,” but that wasn’t the only type of art on display. The arts at Marist also encompass humor, dance, and music. All were on display for students, family, friends, alumni, and the public.

Ask Ryan Williams, 18, of Roselle, who’s been honing his ukulele skills since freshman year at Marist.

“I think it’s great,” he said of the festival. “It’s an opportunity for a lot of students who have talents to display them. I think it’s great that a lot of students come up to me to say they didn’t know I played, and that they liked the way I played.”


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“It’s an opportunity for a lot of students who have talents to display them.” – Ryan Williams

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Of course there was traditional art as well, and Jose Olona, 19, of Bayonne and Chalena DeJesus of Jersey City had larger-than-life-size pieces on display.

Olona displayed an abstract depiction of a friend that took one and a half months to complete. Taller than he is, it’s the first thing you see when you enter the gymnasium, where the festival was held.

DeJesus explained the intricate creative process, which included color and computer graphics.

Zyneira Williams, 17, and Judy Muhia, 18, of Jersey City, created something out of the box and had fun doing it. The two combined on a portrait of Aaliyah, the pop star who died tragically in a plane crash in 2001. But they didn’t do it with paints. They drew the late singer’s face on a board and then filled it in with pushpins.

Leaders of the pack

Carolynn John, Fine and Performing Arts Department chair, and Brother Bob Warren, graphic design teacher, were largely responsible for motivating the students.

Both encourage the students to express themselves in any creative way possible, often challenging them to succeed beyond what they thought was possible.

“She gets things out of the kids that they can’t believe was inside them,” said Principal Alice Miesnik of Carolynn John. “She gives birth to talent year after year. And she doesn’t accept mediocrity.”

She has obvious pride in the students. “We’re proud of them,” Miesnik said. “We enjoy watching their passion. It warms the heart to see the kids love this enough to put the work into it.”

Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.

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