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TOWNSEND -- Usually, traditional media like acrylics, drawing, graphic arts and ceramics are the backbone of any high school art program. A recent opening, however, drew in other types of teenage artists; singers and American Sign Language interpreters.

The ice cream at the North Middlesex Regional High School Visual Arts Exhibit opening reception at the Townsend Meeting Hall helped draw more people than ever to the annual event held May 2.

This is the fourth year the show has hung at the hall, said art teacher Anissa Plante.

Even the ice cream had an artistic flair, served in handmade ceramic bowls. It was a fundraiser run by the eight students in the new National Arts Honor Society at the high school.

Nashoba Publishing/Sandra LordMcKenzie Yapp, David Graham, Emily Bender and Annalise Alaimo attend the North Middlesex art show to support their
Nashoba Publishing/Sandra Lord McKenzie Yapp, David Graham, Emily Bender and Annalise Alaimo attend the North Middlesex art show to support their classmates.

As part of an Empty Bowls project, proceeds will be donated to Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts and Heifer International at Overlook Farm in Rutland.

The NAHS students have been busy during their first year in existence. In the fall, the members raised money by painting faces at football games.

During the winter, they worked to help the music department prepare for Winter Percussion competitions by painting 16 backdrop panels on sheets of plywood. Parents supplied the materials and the students provided time and talent, Plante said.

The spring Empty Bowls project received help from Hannaford Supermarket, Central Pizza and Patriot Pizza.

The teachers were happy with the quality of artwork on display and the number of visitors to the opening.


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"The work is very good. We have exceptional students and a nice wide base of talent to draw from," said teacher Diane Dunn. Most of the students in the show were part of the advanced drawing and painting classes and a few were in the Foundations of Art class.

It took a group effort to draw students to the off-site location. "It's a much better turn-out than I expected," Plante said.

Librarian Sue Hall-Heinz came up with the idea of making a bookmark with a dollar-off coupon for ice cream. Anyone could pick one up at the library, said Plante.

Kyle Kiser's American Sign Language students translated songs from English to ASL using body gestures and expression. "It becomes a visual language," he said.

This is his first year teaching at North Middlesex. He grew up speaking ASL, English is his second language. His hope for teaching the language is that if one of his students ever comes across a deaf or hard-of-hearing person, they will be able to provide some kind of assistance.

"The light on that person's face just changes," he said.

When Kiser stood to interpret a recorded song, the movement and talking in the room stopped as people watched him, with all eyes on his graceful movements. "The students here are the most respectful students I've ever taught," he said.

Even the music students got into the act. Michelle Blake's advanced voice students performed with live accompaniment on the upright piano in the meeting hall.

The visual art will hang in the meeting hall until May 22. Smaller ceramics are on display in the cabinet inside the library doors.