Northeast Alabama Community College recently hosted the second annual Arts Con. Last Wednesday, 627 students in grades 7-12 from 19 schools across Northeast Alabama gathered to compete against other students. The event categories included poetry, short fiction, grammar knowledge, dramatic improve, drawing, pumpkin carving, vocal performance and instrumental performance.
There was a middle school and high school age division. Jeff Hawes, the coordinator of the event, wanted to give students who excel in the arts a chance to showcase their talents, be exposed to new facets of the arts and meet other students who share the same interests.
While there was a competitive aspect to Arts Con, the main purpose was to provide a “fun and relaxing day for students who excel in the arts,” said Hawes. “Jim Reeves, the chair of the English department, and I had this vision for a day that would celebrate students who are gifted in the arts. We developed this competition so that students come from across our serviced area and compete. The teachers were so excited that there was something for their students who excel in the arts.”
This year was the first time that Arts Con included students from grades 7-8 and included musical competitions.
“It was really neat to see students who are so gifted in these areas feel like there were other people who enjoy this [the arts] just as much as they do,” said Hawes. “It gave them a voice that day. I had one teacher at the end of the day who came up to me and was just in tears because she was so excited, and she had never seen her students so excited about writing before.”
The students competed in events that they had be exposed to before but were also able to learn about different parts of the fine arts field that they may have not had the opportunity to study in school.
For example, the students participated in a dramatic improve master class taught by NACC Theatre Director Kayleigh Smith. Arts Con also serves as a great recruitment tool for the fine arts division at NACC. It allows the faculty to be exposed to talented students from schools that have less recruiting than others and encourage them to audition for scholarships.