"It's truly a celebration of cultural programming at its highest level," said Agnes Dauerman, district chairperson for the city's Fine and Performing Arts Department. "I think every student in Union City public schools has the right to enjoy music, art, dance and drama. And through those areas, you can really teach academics and what matters in life."
The festival celebrated its 25th year with some of the same faces that have supported the Multi-Arts since its inception, including Superintendent of Schools Stanley Sanger and Union Hill Principal David Wilcomes.
"I think every year it just gets better and better," said Wilcomes. "We see the many talents of our students and it brings a whole different aspect to them. The arts are a really big part of the education [in Union City]."
The two-day May festival allows the students of Union City to participate in a showcase exhibiting what they have learned throughout the year in the areas of music, drama, literature, dance, photography and the visual arts. Joining the students were talented parents, alumni, and local professional artists.
"It's all ages expressing different talents in many ways," said Dauerman. "You would be surprised at how much talent comes out of Hudson County."
The program took place on May 18 through 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Park Theatre and Art Gallery, 560 52nd St. The program included art exhibitions, multimedia presentations, dance performances, musical theatre, and live broadcasting by students. Member of the Union Hill Video club were taping the entire program, which also exhibited student talents in video production.
Students from Woodrow Wilson School, Jose Marti Middle School, and Union Hill High School, who are all known for the arts-integrated curriculum, truly stole the show. Woodrow Wilson's kids shined as they brought there artistic MIAD programs to the stage at ParkPAC with performances they had also recently shown at the school's 10th anniversary celebration, which included Broadway musical numbers from shows like The Lion King and Cabaret.
The Jose Marti Middle School Choir also demonstrated their powerful vocals with their demonstration of Celia Cruz's song Carnaval, which was led by seventh grader Danny Murillo, who also later did a solo rendition of Marc Anthony's song Preciosa.
In addition to the great staged performances, patrons can also go up to the Art Gallery of the Park Theatre and view some of the incredible work done by students of all ages.
Also going on simultaneously, which is also part of a festival tradition, students and professional artists are on hand doing live sketches.
While taking a break form the show, many went upstairs to have a quick professional portrait done by one of Union City's gifted students.
"This is my second time here and I thought it was really good today," said Angie Velasco, 15, a sophomore at Union Hill High School. "A lot kids in Union City have talent, and this is a great way to show that."
For the past 25 years, this program was created and coordinated by Agnes Dauerman, the district chairperson for Union City's Fine and Performing Arts Department, along with the support of the administration, teachers, professional artists, parents, 140 student Multi Arts Club members, and Union City's alumni who return to either perform or assist in the festival.
"This is truly teamwork, and we can't do it without everyone's cooperation," said Dauerman.
Sadly Dauerman announced on Wednesday that this would be her last year because she is retiring. However, as has been the case for most of the returning alumni, Dauerman will always be available to help.
"I've been working with her for 25 years since she started," said Margaret Guglielmelli. "Her energy, love and education have been overwhelming for the arts and the students of Union City. She is the golden gem that will not be forgotten."
Union City Commissioner Chris Irizarry and members of the Board of Education presented Dauerman with flowers and many praises for her years of work in Union City.
The 25th annual Multi-Arts Festival is sponsored by the Union City Board of Education, the city of Union City, and the Title VI Funding for the Arts Enrichment Programs.