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College Park students ‘showcase’ their work at Pleasant Hill Library

“Zombabe” is an acrylic painting and 3D collage by College Park student Shealyn Higgins

Selected student works from the College Park High School art program are on display at the Pleasant Hill Library this month. This is the second year the school has student art hosted by the library, thanks to the facility’s new location that allows for more educational displays.

And students are excited for the opportunity.

“I’m delighted to have my work showcased. It’s very gratifying to be able to exhibit something I’ve worked so hard on,” said Shealyn Higgins, a College Park 12th grader and Advanced Placement art student. “It always feels good to be able to share something you’re proud of with others.” 

Higgins said the show encouraged her in her artistic works. 

“I think giving students the opportunity to showcase their work in a public space is very valuable,” she said. “For me, I feel so proud to be able to have my work in this gallery. I find myself more motivated to take on ambitious artwork in the face of opportunities such as this showing.” 

Tori Pollicino, a 12th grader studying photography at College Park, said, “I have never really gotten the opportunity to show my art to the community, and I am very happy to get the chance.” 

The art exhibit was installed Feb. 26 and runs through March 23. One hundred twenty students contributed 124 pieces. The show was put together by College Park Visual Arts Department teachers to demonstrate the talents of their student artists across different mediums including ceramics, glass, graphic design, and traditional drawing and painting. 

The first showcase was held in 2022, the year the new library opened. The new library building encompasses 24,000 square feet, allowing for a new open layout. The library has a cafe space, study rooms, an outdoor area and a makers workshop. 

This year’s art by 20 students were selected by teachers Jennifer Koett, Kristin Landowski, Zach Sesar, Chris Ellenwood and Carrie Wilkerson. Koett – a new teacher in the College Park program – said she hopes to further enrich the arts at the high school.

“I want to bring my passion for the arts, enthusiasm for education and joy for life to College Park,” Koett said. “I am hoping that my experiences as a human being, daughter, sister, auntie, educator, consummate student, traveler, artist and musician will translate into my classroom and ultimately inspire students to be curious, do their very best and to be the very best human they can be.

“Some of my favorite childhood memories include going to the art museums in San Diego, Maryland and Washington, D.C. and taking art classes. I majored in studio art in college with minors in art education and graphic design,” Koett said. “By my junior year, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher as I loved working with kids and I was very passionate about my discipline.” 

Higgins and Pollicino stressed the impact their teachers have had on them. 

“Being a part of the CP art programs has been a very important part of my journey as an artist. I have now taken four art classes at CP and am just a few months away from graduating,” Higgins said. “I intend to pursue art in college, and I feel my classes and teachers have been very influential in my decision to pursue a higher art education.”

Pollicino cites her Photo I and II teacher as a big inspiration for her continued interest in photo arts and her passion for the medium. “She really helped me hone my skills and find my way in photography.” 

Not only do art teachers have an impact on their students, but teachers say students make great impressions on them. 

“Teaching kids keeps me young!” Koett said. “I have been in education since 1996 and have so many wonderful memories working with students and other educators. If I had to do it all over again, I would choose the same profession. There’s a lot of intrinsic reward when you see students through a successful process. 

Koett said art can play a great role in everyone’s life. 

“I think everyone should be exposed to the arts, visual and or performing at a young age so they can develop the skills necessary to be proficient enough to get a lifetime of enjoyment out of it,” she said. “The arts enrich our lives.”

*Additional resources  

Bailey Winey is a 12th grader at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill. 

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