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Utica student artists celebrated at board of education meeting

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 5/24/23

The accomplishments of Utica City School District art students were lauded by their teacher and the district's board of education Tuesday during the board's regular monthly meeting.

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Utica student artists celebrated at board of education meeting


The accomplishments of Utica City School District art students were lauded by their teacher and the district's board of education Tuesday during the board's regular monthly meeting.

Christina Hopkins, art teacher and fine arts department chair at Proctor High School, explained the school has a rigorous arts program that focuses on personal expression, critical thinking, effective visual communication and artistic vision.

"All who have participated in the creative process know the depth and amount of time and energy that goes into creating a successful work of art," Hopkins told the board and their audience. "It can be a very enlightening, consuming and humbling experience. Art teaches us perseverance. As artists, we experiment, explore, reflect upon and refine our work to communicate and share our stories."

Art is exactly that — visual representation of our lives and stories, she explained.

Hopkins said the art she was sharing at the board meeting was the result of countless hours of development, innovation, creative process, problem solving, learning from mistakes and collaboration. She said she was proud of each student who entered the competitions and shared their own stories.

Projecting images of the artwork on a video screen, Hopkins presented several recent award winners. Many of those students joined her at the podium after their artwork was shown.

2023 Scholastic Art Award: Alexandria Campion, Matthew Golder, Maximon Giordani, Nevaeh Heburn, Angelina Le and Kyut Paw.

2023 Scholastic Art Award National Silver Medalist: Maximon Giordani.

MVCC Art Scholarship Award: Nevaeh Heburn and Eh Sue.

Fenimore Young at Art Finalists: Bee Ju, Bu Soe Paw, Kyut Paw, Thein Lan Paw, Lee Doh Say, Rose-Alyn and Dakota Williams.

Congressional Art Competition Honorable Mention: Matthew Golden.

Hopkins said the support of the district for the students' art endeavors is a big inspiration to them.

"I think I speak on behalf of all members of the fine arts department when I say thank you so much — knowing that we are supported and celebrated by our school leaders means the world to all of us," Hopkins told the board.

New district Acting Superintendent Steven Falchi said he has been fortunate to have Hopkins as the chair of the fine arts department.

"She has worked tirelessly to build and sustain a fantastic art program," Falchi complimented. "She works with Munson; we have field trips for elementary kids at Munson; and she is also the architect behind the annual district art show along with the art department, so I think I would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge her hard work."

"Thank you for all of your hard work ... I really enjoyed the art show," added board President Joseph Hobika Jr. "Thank you, students, for your wonderful works of art."

Budget transfers

Hobika has questioned some budget line items over the last few meetings that have significantly gone over the approved figures allocated by the board. New Chief Financial Officer Heather Mowat told the board she has been taking an initial look at where the current state of the district is as one of the first steps of her job.

"One of the things I was surprised by was the amount of overages in budget lines, some by quite a bit," she said.

Mowat then went back through board minutes to see the last time they approved such over expenditures, as any transfer of more than $2,500 has to be approved by the board prior to being spent. A lot of school districts do wait until the end of the year to take care of overages, she noted, but that's not what the district's policy says.

In the next couple of months, Mowat will present the board with budget transfers for their approval, she said.

Farewell to student liaison

The board wished their student liaison, Tha Da Mwee Kyet, well as she was attending her final meeting that evening before graduating from Proctor High School. Her final report to the board highlighted some of the recent and upcoming events at Proctor for May and June and then the board and Falchi posed for photos with her. Kyet also asked to take her nameplate as a keepsake.

Safety plan

Security and Safety Coordinator Hiram Rios presented an overview of the District-Wide Safety Plan and Individual Building Level School Emergency plans, although withholding actual specific responses as they are not accessible to the public — and the plans were unanimously accepted by the board.

Welcome to new board member

Hobika introduced new board of education member Jason Cooper, who, along with Hobika himself, was elected the week before.


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