PSHS student gets art honor

CHARLESTON – Student artists and musicians from across the state, including Jackson, Tyler and Wood counties, will be featured Friday at the West Virginia Department of Education’s seventh annual Arts Alive! program celebrating artistic achievement by public school children.

Arts Alive includes for the first time an artistic creation by preschool children as part of a yearlong Celebration of West Virginia Universal Pre-K. The event will include performances by the All-State Chorus and the Arts Alive Dance Ensemble, both of which include students from across the state.

In addition, artwork by Samantha Shimer, a senior at Parkersburg South High School, was chosen as the Arts Alive! logo this year. Shimer’s work represents theater, music, visual arts and dance together.

“I wanted to wrap them all together,” she said.

The logo was chosen from among dozens of submissions from around the state. It will be used on all Arts Alive! printed materials, including posters and other promotional materials, the concert program and the official T-shirt.

Shimer also designed Parkersburg South’s S.P.O.T. night T-shirt logo. Another of her designs was chosen as the state representative for the National Youth Art Month display.

Shimer said art teacher Jim Smith pushes students to enter numerous contests.

“We enter them all the time,” she said.

The school has produced numerous art, design and logo winners, Shimer said.

Shimer, her mother and Smith will attend Friday’s events.

Shimer is slated to attend WVU this fall, where she’ll major in graphic design.

Visual art created by students at Ravenswood High School, Ripley Middle School, Ripley High School, Tyler Consolidated Middle School, Tyler Consolidated High School and Parkersburg South will be displayed.

The lobby showcase begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the main performance at 7 p.m. Friday at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences in Charleston. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are available from the Clay Center at 304-561-3500.

“We know that students learn best when they are able to connect different subjects and integrate their learning,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares. “Well-taught arts courses are where creativity, flexibility, innovation, understanding and empathy are consistently required. These are skills that are transferable to many other disciplines.”

A 2012 study of students in West Virginia found that those with an arts-rich high school experience scored higher in mathematics and reading/ language arts. This finding generally held true even for students of lower socioeconomic status or with disabilities.

“Years of research show that an education that includes the arts is closely linked to almost everything that we demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity,” Phares said.