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Creativity in the Time of Covid–June 6, 2021

Commencement Celebrates Grads’ Accomplishments

L-R: Susan Hudson, Geri Poston, Ella Mirman, Franki Mobley-Tarpley, Akos Fuszfaz, Jack Nash, Kasey Ferace

The Booker High School commencement ceremony was a delight, with four commencement speakers offering words of wisdom, moving musical performances, and some longstanding BHS traditions, like Dr. Shelley’s address to the graduates regarding their post-secondary plans.

L-R: Myles Summerlin, Rosie Wolff, Mr. John Timpe, Maddy Hardin, and Jonathan Rodriguez

Grads and guests alike were elated as we returned to a more normal ceremony, with a Pomp and Circumstance processional, caps and gowns, and all the festivities of a commencement after a year’s hiatus (and drive-thru celebration) due to Covid.

L-R: Colby Masi, Jose Fernandez, Colin Leonard

Category 5 performed a rousing rendition of Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me,” and the seniors of the orchestra offered a beautiful and bittersweet performance of “Con te Partito.” The National Anthem, impressively sung by Emily Mollins, was deeply welcomed as a collective experience.

Among the commencement speakers was Sophia Coscia, Live Entertainment Production & Design grad, who noted that attending Booker VPA was “the best choice” she’s ever made. Other speakers included Twisty Cone member James Anthony Cook, Brianna Witlarge-Issaacs, and Erick Reynoso. Themes of speeches included the hard-wrought accomplishment of graduating as a minority, the value of being true to oneself, and the role the high school experience plays in human development.

Mr. John Timpe with Film & Animation superstar Maren Timpe.

The occasion was also a red-letter day for two VPA teachers, Mr. John Timpe and Mr. Steve Strenk, whose children graduated on Saturday. The proud fathers gave diplomas to their graduates, Maren Timpe (VPA Film & Animation) and Liam Strenk, who is the third Strenk child to graduate from Booker High School.

VPA faculty L-R: Rebecca Abrahamson, Scott Keys, Sung Choe, Cathie Janssen, Steven Strenk

Graduates, we are so proud of you and so grateful to have been a part of your journey. We wish you all the best and hope you know you’ll always have a home at Booker High School.

VPA Silver Cord Ceremony Recognizes Arts Education Achievement

The VPA hosted its second-annual Silver Cord Ceremony on June 3. The ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of young artists and is an opportunity for teachers to share gifts and a goodbye to their seniors. Seniors also received a yearbook that details highlights of their VPA experience and their future plans. You can see the yearbook here.

The event was borne of necessity last year, as a commencement seemed uncertain and the VPA decided that closure with graduates was important. Teachers had not seen students since March 11. The ceremony, in the Van Wezel parking lot, was a way of reconnecting, creating a moment to celebrate specifically finishing the VPA, and giving grad gifts.

Dancers flank Ms. Courtney after a tearjerker moment.

This year’s ceremony, which was in the gym was a chance to emphasize the importance of learning the arts the accomplishment of completing the VPA.

Music grads and their teachers, Ms. Nix, Ms. Choe, Mr. Zickafoose, and Ms. Saxton.

A Golden Finale to the School Year

A fun way to raise some funds: “Gold” will delight and inspire.

Don’t forget to get your tickets to “Gold,” the VPA’s faculty showcase, which is June 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the courtyard/pavilion. For the first time in memory, the teachers are stepping onto the stage to present a lively and inspired performance for our VPA family and arts community. Get your tickets here!

The performance, which examines the notion of gold in all its iterations, will feature dance and music of a variety of genres–rock, folk, Broadway showtunes, classical, and more. Ms. Janssen’s fashions will be modeled and on display, and the Art Department has designed a killer tee-shirt to commemorate the event.

It also will be a chance to bid farewell to our beloved Mr. Keys as he retires from his iconic 21-year teaching career in VPA Theatre.

Mural is Complete!

The first major art installation in building 8 has been finished! The vibrant piece, which spans the walls between Ms. Janssen’s 3-D lab and Mr. Cornwell’s room, has spurred conversations, moments of art appreciation, and a slew of requests by teachers on campus to paint more. Here it is in its final glory.

The mural comprises input from art students that Mr. Strenk placed into a Photoshop collage. It inspires more thoughtful travel through the building with its vibrant colors and varied gems to spot.

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