A little can go a long way, particularly in the arts department at Mamaroneck High School. The department has managed to stretch a $10,000 grant received in 1982 into an annual reward for excellence in visual and performing arts.
When the Rockefeller Brothers Fund decided back in 1982 to hand-pick top quality arts programs at public schools around the country and use those programs as models for other to replicate, Mamaroneck High School was recognized for its excellence in arts education and received a grant of $10,000. The district invested this money, and next Tuesday evening, for the 28th consecutive year, it will be using the interest earned to honor two graduating seniors who have excelled in the visual and performing arts.
“Rather than using the $10,000 on a one-time expenditure such as carpeting the art gallery or purchasing an etching press – like many of the schools did – we decided to invest the money by setting up a fund to present awards to our students year after year for the high quality work that made it possible for us to receive this award in the first place,” said MHS Art Department Chairperson Jon Murray. “We worked to make the money last by pooling the $10,000 with other district dollars and collecting a better rate of interest.”
This year, Anetta Urmey will receive the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Award for her work in the area of visual arts. Wednesday Derrico has been selected among PACE (Performing Arts Curriculum Experience) students as the recipient of the award in performing arts. The duo will receive $250 and will be honored at the Mamaroneck School Board’s June 15 meeting at 7:30 pm in the Tiered Classroom at Mamaroneck High School.
A special evening is planned around the awards, including a slide show presentation of Anetta’s work and a performance by Wednesday of her original song “Background Noises”. The song was performed by a group earlier this year at the PACE Soundscapes show.
“What a great honor this is. I look forward to performing my song on Tuesday,” said Wednesday Derrico. “PACE has been my anchor for so many things over the past four years. Through PACE, I think all of us have gained some very important life skills and have benefited immeasurably from working with people of different interests and skills.”
Wednesday, who will be attending the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU in the fall, said she wrote “Background Noises” in typical PACE fashion by starting with an idea and building on it during class. The title came to her only as she realized that all the others around her were doing their own thing and rehearsing their individual acts. “There were all of these noises as background while I was writing, and it was pretty cool,” she said.
Anetta also expressed appreciation for the award and said it was only recently that she realized art would be something she would pursue. “There are so many talented artists here at MHS, each with their own strengths, that I am so honored to have been selected for this award,” she said. In the fall, she will attend the Rhode Island School of Design.
Anetta’s art teacher, Kevin Klein, commented on her concentration and thoroughness: “In an age when everybody is going faster and faster and multitasking, many activities are given only cursory consideration or distracted half-attention.Anetta’s way of operating is a refreshing alternative! The most gratifying aspect of working with Anetta is seeing the uncompromising thoroughness of her working process. She takes her artwork very seriously in both the planning and execution phases. Her artwork is fully realized and very persuasive. When I see someone take her work so seriously and do it so well, it helps me feel like my work as a teacher is worthwhile and has a real impact.”
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund Award for Excellence in Art Education originally selected ten schools to receive the award. Mamaroneck was the only high school selected that did not specialize in art or design.
“A high-powered awards committee consisting of David Rockefeller, Jr. and National Art Education Association members visited our school and thoroughly examined our programs,” Mr. Murray said. “While we continue today to be proud of the award we received, we are most proud of the fact that we’ve been able to maintain the quality of programs in the performing and visual arts that brought us this award.”
Debbie Manetta is public information officer for the Mamaroneck School District.