By Johnny Jackson
Tony McKoy, a shy and unassuming second-grader, delighted in learning the proper technique, his chin pressed against the rest as he slid his fingers along the neck of the violin. His more vocal classmate, Ben Odle, appeared to catch on quickly in playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
The pair of Luella Elementary School students were participants in an interactive showcase, featuring violin students from the ABC Montessori School in Locust Grove. The violin showcase was a part of Luella's sixth annual school-wide fine arts festival held Friday, known as "Arts Alive! 2010."
The annual event gives students an opportunity to experience aspects of the fine arts they might not otherwise experience in life, said Christine Thompson, the school's art teacher and the festival coordinator.
Thompson said she helped create the first school fine arts festival at Hampton Elementary School with Hampton Music Teacher Georgia Flournoy almost a decade ago. She brought the activity to Luella six years ago.
Friday's festival at Luella featured professional artists from several realms of the fine arts, including painters, sculptors, potters, musicians and singers.
Andrea Kay Smith, one of those in attendance, is a primitive artist in Atlanta who uses recycled materials to create art. She conducted a class in which students were asked to create vinyl art work, using recycled cans and buckets.
"Christine and I believe that art can change the world," Smith said. "This is simple art, but it is beneficial to the kids. To me, art is an inspiration."
Smith believes her form of art incorporates several disciplines within the academic world, like earth science, geometry, and social studies.
"I think the arts are a part of everyday life, and a part of learning," added muralist, Cammie Adams of McDonough. "For instance, we are incorporating the school's curriculum in what we are doing today."
Adams demonstrated to students how art can be integrated into commonplace objects like drop-ceiling tiles. She created outline drawings on plain tiles that students helped paint, and she donated those tiles for use at the school.
"They get very excited about days like this," said Jackie Harper, a Luella second-grade teacher. "A lot of kids don't get to experience art, so this is their way to be able to experience different types of art."
Potter, Jim Webber, has been working with pottery for the past 25 years.
"I grew up in a great community that offered me the resources, and that's how I became a potter," Webber said. "I'm telling these students that in order to be successful, they have to learn to learn, and that knowing and learning are two different things. Learning is about failing and getting over it. That's what art can teach you."
Intertwined with the professional artists like Webber, student musicians were featured at the fine arts festival.
The Luella Middle School Chorus, the Luella High School Band, and the Luella High School Show Choir -- many of their members former Luella Elementary School students themselves -- each performed for the elementary school students during the event.
"I think it's a great opportunity," said Spencyr Frye, a ninth-grader in Luella High's show choir.
Frye, who plans to continue expressing herself through music into adulthood, recalled participating as an elementary student in "Arts Alive!" several years ago. "It opened my eyes a little bit to what types of arts existed," she said.
Fellow show choir member, 10th-grader Johnette Alveoo, said she was motivated to join the high school chorus and show choir because of a previous experience with "Arts Alive!"
"It inspired me to take chorus," Alveoo said. "A Luella Middle School student [Chelsea Boyd] sang to us, and I thought it was great, and I wanted to do it. "
Alveoo said she later sang alongside Boyd when she joined the high school chorus.
Musician, Kristi Pass, said she began as a singer and pianist. She now performs professionally as a classically trained harpist, as she did Friday for students at the school.
"One day, I saw some old harps at an old church in New Hampshire, and I became really interested in learning how to play them," Pass said. "I think learning the instrument taught me a lot about discipline, and I think music touches people's souls and changes their lives."