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Young South Brunswick Artists Shine

A student art gallery at Brooks Crossing Elementary School showcased over 800 works of art.

A burst of color enveloped the gym at  on Thursday, as the school’s talented young student artists received a night in the spotlight. While the South Brunswick School District honors young artists throughout the district with its , the size and scope of the district festival limits the amount of pieces each school can submit.

As a result, the Brooks Crossing staff decided to hold their own night to show off their students' best pieces of art.

"I always wanted to do a celebration for all of our students right here, so that's the bottom line behind this night," said art teacher Ellen Kazar. "It goes back to why we have a celebration for all of our student artists. For some kids, it's easier to express themselves through art."

Kazar said about 830 pieces of student art were on display from both the Brooks Crossing and Deans campuses. She added that pieces were selected to highlight each student’s best work.

Art teacher Jill Ward said the evening gave parents a chance to see the scope of the talent displayed by art students throughout the year.

"The parents come in and get an idea of what each grade level is working on and they can share that with their children," Ward said. "It also gives the kids a chance to shine, have their work out there and have their own special night in the spotlight."

Fourth-grader Grace Boekhout-Whiting chose a weaving project she created for her selection in the gallery. 

"I feel really good about having people see my work," she said. "Not everybody gets their art at the district festival so it feels good to have it here."

First-grader Krista Oliver chose a self-portrait for her selection and was jubilant for the opportunity to share it with South Brunswick.

"I chose my self-portrait because I like the colors I used," she said. "I think people will like it too, so I'm really excited about it."

For some students, the gallery presented an opportunity to present not only a piece of art, but also a fine idea.

"The piece I chose is a 'Happy Un-Birthday Cake,' because you only get a birthday once a year, so I made a cake for all the other days in the year," said second-grader Aleena Zirvi.

Brooks Crossing parent Tina Opoke said the selection of paintings, sculptures and more left her quite impressed.

"This helps the kids feel proud of themselves and it let's the parents see what kind of work they're doing," she said.

Beyond just the freedom of self-expression that art provides, Kazar added that the arts help students in a variety of academic areas.

“Art helps students with problem-solving, math, sometimes the kids don’t believe me that there’s math involved in art,” Kazar said. “So that’s why I like to tie in what they’re doing in their other classes with what we do in art, so it takes it to another level.”

Walking through the rows upon rows of pictures, Brooks Crossing Principal Jodi Mahoney said the school art festival allowed every student, especially those who don't get a piece selected for the larger district festival, to be stars for the night.

"This gives us a chance to have a night where we highlight every student and honor the amazing talent every one of them has," she said.

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