MARSHALL - February is Fine Arts Month at Marshall Area Christian School, and students there have been thrilled to have the opportunity to learn about and enhance their own skills while taking part in a variety of educational fine arts experiences all month long.
For the first time, students had the opportunity to perform in a coffeehouse-type setting this year. The new Java Shop allowed parents and visitors to enjoy a cup of coffee or other beverages while watching fine arts performances by the students.
"We've always had fine arts events at this school, but we just decided to do it a little bit different this year," events coordinator Laura Hibma said. "We're showcasing different grades on different days, with the students performing in the areas of writing and speaking and things."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Students have been extremely busy participating in special activities during Fine Arts February at Marshall Area Christian School. During a skit on Tuesday, Hannah Meier, left, attempts to make Mary Sundquist realize that she should be thankful for her lunch, even if it involves vegetables.
Grace Life Church allows MACS to use the coffeehouse area when it's available, which Hibma said the school is thankful for.
"It's just away from the classroom," she said. "We wouldn't fit this many people in the classroom. And, people can enjoy coffee and water and can tour the kids' classrooms after the performances. They can also join the kids for lunch if they have time. So far, it's been good."
Between 20 and 40 parents and visitors have attended the Java Shop performances each day this week. On Tuesday, the fifth- and sixth-grade students in Steve Harrison's class shared their talents.
"It just gives the students a chance to perform and use the gifts and talents God has given them, and just showcase those things," Hibma said. "Some do it by writing, some by reading, some by acting, some in the area of art. It just kind of lets the students excel in the gifts that they have."
After a comical skit in which students weighed the choices between the wise man's home and the foolish man's home, Ellie Harrison, Zoe Hulsizer and Odessa Knochenmus read versions of their own poetry.
"It builds confidence in the kids, and it gives them an opportunity to do it at a young age," Hibma said. "And, they get to perform in front of a small crowd. It's been a lot of fun."
Kyle Murphy, Kianna Prins and Amber Tholen also read their poetry creations.
"It gets easier and easier to get up there," said Tholen, a fifth-grader. "But we spent a lot of time practicing. The few first times, people would just start laughing and forget to say their name and stuff like that."
Fifth-grader Tim Boersma said his class had been practicing for about three or four days.
"It's our first time performing here, though," he said.
Like others, Tholen's poem revealed information about her family, among other topics.
"It was really fun," Tholen said of the project. "Some of the poems are just ridiculously funny."
Fifth-grader Kianna Prins not only got the giggles during her hilarious poem, she got the entire audience going, too, though she was able to compose herself and finish her poem.
"I just started bursting out laughing because it was a very funny poem," Prins said. "I couldn't resist laughing because I'm a giggle box. I always have been and I never will stop. I enjoyed doing the project."
Sixth-graders Marah Hart, Olivia Knochenmus and Johanna Christensen put on a skit that dealt with friendship and competition.
"This Bible quiz competition won't affect our friendship," said Christensen, in her portrayal of "Jackie." "As long as you're OK with it when I win."
Jackie continued on, stating that she should signing autographs for her fans.
"You have an ego problem," said Knochenmus, who portrayed "Stephanie." "What makes you think you're going to win? I've really been studying my Bible lately."
Christensen said the trio had been practicing for the last couple of weeks. While they felt like they were ready to go, there was a spot in the skit where they had to really focus to avoid exploding in laughter.
"We're usually really good about doing our lines, but for some reason, we were really bad," Knochenmus said. "There was this one line where I was saying something and we just started cracking up during our practice."
The group said they were afraid that they'd start giggling, like Prins did, and not be able to contain themselves.
"I was just praying I wouldn't start laughing," Christensen said. "I told them to pinch me if I even started smiling."
Another skit, comprised of Nichole Sample, Hannah Meier and Mary Sundquist performed a skit that spread a message about being thankful, even for vegetables that were packed in a school lunch instead of junk food.
"How can I be thankful for this salad bar in a bag?" Sundquist's character asked. "I need frosting or fudge."
After Meier helped her to realize how thoughtful her mother was in packing a nutritious lunch and seeing another student, Sample, praying and giving thanks for her food, Sundquist wasn't so eager to trade lunches anymore. She was thankful for what she had.
Earlier in the month, MACS seventh- and eighth-grade students helped write and then gave dinner theater performances. Last week, the school also brought in Gary Harbo, a cartoon artist, to teach students how to draw.
"The younger kids get to do their different skits, plays and readers theaters this week," Hibma said. "Next week, we have some speech kids coming in. It's been a really fun month for the kids."