TVEC Students Shine at Evening of the Arts

Photo by Brenda Maguire

Photo by Brenda Maguire

By Brenda Maguire
For 21st Century Media

On Tuesday, May 21, art and music joined forces in the Twin Valley Elementary Center’s Evening of the Arts.

“It’s a culmination of a year of work. It’s a collaboration of the art and music department to show how creative and artistic the children at TVEC are,” said music teacher Melissa Ebling.

The night included 1,000 piece of student artwork on display varying in medium and skills students have gained over the school year.

The theme of the art show was “The Earth without Art is just ‘Eh!’”

The children of Twin Valley Elementary Center performing as part of the ‘Evening of the Arts’ event which was held at the school on the evening of May 21, 2013.

A slideshow of many different pieces of art that was on display at the Twin Valley Elementary Center’s ‘Evening of the Arts’, a celebration of art and music which took place on May 21, 2013.

“It’s a way to show off everything they’ve done this year and how it connects to what they’ve learned this year,” said art teacher Meghan LeClair.

LeClair gives each of her students the chance to pick two pieces of their work to show off in the show.

For kindergarten student Anthony Chrisi the piece he was most excited to show was one in which his face was imposed on a character from “The Cat in the Hat.” Chrisi chose this piece because, “I worked hard on it.”

“It’s exciting to see what he’s been doing in school all year and the other projects he’ll be doing through his schooling,” said Anthony’s mother, Cathy.

Brooke Allan, another kindergarten student, chose a piece depicting a city with a large monster in it to be shown.

“It’s fun,” said Brooke’s mother Amy. “It’s neat to see what they’ve been doing in art class all year.”

LeClair couldn’t be more pleased with her student’s work.

“It’s a really proud night for everyone,” she said, adding that the pieces shown were “phenomenal artwork” and “beyond what’s expected of elementary school students.”

Principal Craig Sell added, “The pieces are absolutely incredible.”

Photo by Brenda Maguire

Photo by Brenda Maguire

The night also features a music portion through the musical concert entitled “Americans We”. The third graders started off the show singing the “Battle Hymn of Gettysburg” followed by “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” on the recorder.

See a video of some of the performances here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kst-5vwlLAU

The American theme to the concert reflects the curriculum from the school year as the students were taught early American history and the songs performed were inspired by the Gettysburg address, The Declaration of the United States and the foundations that America were built upon.

“Students don’t always have tangible work from the music room, so tonight shows what they’ve been learning,” Ebling said. “It’s a proud moment for me as a teacher to see them achieve and excel so much.

The fourth grade chorus performed songs ranging from “America We” to “Once Nation” while the fourth grade band dazzled the crown with “You’re A Grand Old Flag” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Over 150 students performed in the musical concert.

“It means a lot to come together as a community and support the arts,” Sell said, adding, “Arts are a very important part to the education.”

LeClair noted that the annual Evening of the Arts is a highlight of every school year, and at times in the night she even tears up a little.

“Seeing the pride on the students faces as they show their work,” she said, “it’s emotional.”

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Samurai! exhibit makes its US debut at the MFA, explores collection from Japan

By Brenda Maguire, News Staff

The thought of a Japanese samurai may bring many images to mind. Some of these might include samurai wielding swords in one-on-one combat or in battle.

But as art? That is a new one.

The Museum of Fine Arts’ new exhibit “Samurai! Armor from the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” opened April 14 and showcases 140 works from the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection of Dallas. Gabriel Barbier-Mueller had an interest in samurai armor from a young age, which inspired him to start collecting pieces, which ultimately led to his creation of the the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection in Dallas with his wife, Ann.

“This exhibition superbly complements the museum’s own collection of works from Japan, which was first assembled in the late 19th century and since then has become internationally renowned,” Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA, said in a statement.

This is the United States debut of “Samurai!” and it will travel across the country after its stay at the MFA, which ends Aug. 4.

When entering the exhibit, 16 flat screen TVs showing images of the pieces greet visitors as a preview for what is coming next. Upon entering the dimly lit first room of the exhibit, visitors will have the chance to view three samurai suited ceremonial armor. The armor is intricate and colorful, leaving very little exposure to the body of the samurai. Much of the armor is made up of small rectangular plates that are connected with leather or silk.

Moving away from the body armor, the exhibit also features a chronological display of helmets to show the evolution of the headpiece. The display starts with a riveted helmet that would have been worn during the Kamakura period, from 1185 to 1333. Visitors will see the masks evolve to be more detailed and colorful. Some of the masks shown are only half masks and one is made to look like a human head, although the ears are not properly placed.

On the decorated helmets, spectators can see various elements including animal images and mustaches made of horsehair, which are placed on the helmet where the person’s upper lip would be.

Alaric Wrasman, a sophomore digital art and interactive media major, attended the exhibit on the opening day and said that although the exhibit was very crowded, he enjoyed taking in the different forms of art.

“I think it says something interesting about their culture and our culture because the mustaches were meant to be intimidating but I find them endearing,” he said.

Historically, constructing samurai armor was considered an art form and required a full team of workers. Blacksmiths, soft metal craftsmen, leather workers, braid makers, dyers, painters and other artisans all worked together to create armor that not only protected the wearer, but also incorporated motifs reflecting samurai spirituality, folklore and nature. Samurai armor was often showcased for guests to see when it was not in use, according the the exhibit’s press release.

Further along in the exhibit, guests can see five samurai standing, dressed in full uniform. Right across from them are three samurai sitting on horses, which, in addition to the samurai on top of them, are also dressed in armor.

“Arts of the samurai have long attracted audiences here at the Museum and this exhibition provides an unparalleled opportunity for our visitors to experience striking works of tremendous artistry,” Anne Nishimura Morse, the MFA’s William and Helen Pounds senior curator of Japanese art, said in a release.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors can learn more about samurai history and bushido, which translates to the “way of the warrior” through panel descriptions on the wall. Bushido encompasses both martial and ethical traditions, which include honesty, courage and loyalty. It also includes a warrior’s acceptance of death, whether it be in battle or ritual suicide, which was often performed if the warrior broke the code of conduct.

In addition to the armor on display, multiple paintings of samurai at war decorate the walls.

“I liked the long panel painting,” Wrasman said. “It was majestic and it put a perspective on the size of story telling art.”

“Samurai!” concludes with a showcase of three suits of armor that show how the decorative nature of the outfits increased during the 250 years of peace, which ended the dominance of the samurai. This evolution will be obvious to visitors due to the increase of decorative elements as the exhibit goes on. This includes the addition of animal or spiritual symbols on the helmets and armor.

The museum is also offering a Samurai Saturdays program, which will feature samurai-inspired activities, such as performances and art making, for children and adults. The exhibit also features an interactive online game for children, which can be accessed on the MFA’s website. The game, which was created through a partnership with Stan Sakai and video game company HappyGiant, pins the main character Usagi Yojimbo in battles against anthropomorphic animals representing ninjas, demonic samurai, evil spirits and monsters.

“Usagi Yojimbo gives us a fun way to engage young people and attract families to the MFA’s exciting new exhibition,” said Malcolm Rogers, Ann and Graham Gund director of the MFA, in a statement. “This playful game offers a window into feudal Japan and showcases the impressive armor on view in Samurai!”

Although some of the armor and masks had a scary appearance and were used in battle, it is obvious that there was great focus put on the appearance and presentation of the pieces in the “Samurai!” exhibit.

Wrasman said he would urge any of his fellow students to explore the “Samurai!” exhibit because, “You get to take a walk through a different and exciting world.”

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Elverson’s McBride raises nearly 4k in post surgery marathon

By Brenda Maguire
For Journal Register News Service

ELVERSON, PA – For many, the feat would sound impossible: run a full marathon just six months after having open-heart surgery.

But this was not the case for Elverson resident Jeff McBride, who completed the challenge on March 17 while raising $3,835 for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

McBride, 27, had open-heart surgery to replace his aortic valve and aorta after he was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve with severe regurgitation and stenosis, a condition which caused his heart to enlarge to the point where medical action was necessary on September 17.

Inspired by the birth of his son, McBride ran this marathon to raise money for CHOP.

Before the run McBride raised $2,335 and because he was able to finish, additional sponsors matched his original fundraising goal of $1,500, bringing him to a total of $3,835 for CHOP.

“Seeing how my original goal was $1,500 total – I’m quite happy with out it turned out,” he said via e-mail.

McBride exceeded the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles and ran a total of 27.67 miles in 7 hours, 13 minutes. He started in Oaks, PA and ended at CHOP, 3401 Civic Center Blvd, Philadelphia, PA.

McBride said he started the first six or so miles off strong, feeling physically fit while running outside for the first time since his surgery and feeling emotionally strong because of what he was accomplishing.

“As the miles built up my lower body started to lock up completely, muscles cramps all the time and my knees felt like they were two bricks smashing into each other with ever step. I also ran out of water in my camelback when I got near Norristown and didn’t find any shop or drinkable water source until I reached Manyunk where I took a one-block detour from the trail to buy ten bottles of water from a cafe,” he recalled.

Although McBride experienced his body shutting down after mile six, he still kept going, saying it was as if his body was on auto-pilot.

He did note that there was one fun part of the run. In true Philadelphia fashion, when McBride reached the Art Museum, he ran up the iconic stairs just like Sylvester Stallone did in “Rocky”.

“I always wanted to do that but never (had),” he said.

Right before finishing the run, McBride ran right by the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, the same hospital where his surgery was performed. In fact, he even noticed the window to the room he was in just six months ago.

“I had a bit of nostalgia set in since I remember standing on the inside of the window, still having chest tubes and all in me, telling myself I would be fine, fit and healthy again and run past here one day,” McBride said.

Visit McBride’s fundraising website, Motivated Heart, to learn more about his journey at http://www.motivatedheart.com.

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LIVE BLOG: Winter Storm Nemo

NOTE: The following piece is something I collaborated on with the Editor-in-chief of The Huntington News. We both contributed updates to the blog. I worked to format the blog and posted updates to twitter throughout the day to make sure students were up-to-date on the conditions during Winter Storm Nemo.

To make sure you’re prepared for the storm and have the most up-to-date information, check this page as it is updated and be sure to follow The Huntington News on Twitter @HuntNewsNU.

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