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Butterflies, Balloons and a Rain Forest

You might think that students about to go on Spring Break would be distracted, disorganized, or perhaps even a little disinterested in working hard on an Art Fair project, or learning 9 songs for their annual musical. 

Jane Ball Elementary School students, however, set aside all of the ‘dis’ words and focused on the inspiration provided by two amazing teachers at the school, Trista Mantel and Christine Santaguida.  Together, with the help of a number of parent volunteers, these two teachers once again filled the Jane Ball house with art lovers and then brought the house down with “Singing in the Rain Forest,” performed by 2nd grade students. 

The art show, the biggest in recent history, featured 467 pieces of framed artwork in the Cafeteria available for purchase and an addition 530 pieces of art displayed in the hallways at the school.  “The biggest challenge of a show like this is just trying to keep over 400 student’s artwork organized between my 21 classes,” said Mrs. Mantel who remained unflappable at the show she attended with her baby daughter, Eden.  Mrs. Mantel enjoys seeing all of the artwork displayed in one place and seeing the reaction of her students to their framed artwork.  “It is really fun to hear my older students say ‘I remember that project, it was one of my favorites’’ as they walk through the show and see the artwork of younger students."  The show is a big undertaking and Mrs. Mantel was grateful for the help of parent volunteers:  Sarah Wornhoff, Trisha and Sarah Huffer, Heidi Cranor, and Paulette Wehmhoefer who insured that the gallery and hallways were nothing short of perfect.  

framed painting of tree silhouettes

These amazing 'tree silouettes' by 4th graders at Jane Ball were beautiful.

picture of hot air balloons

This picture of hot air balloons done by second grader, Owen Staples was colorful and eye catching.

As parents and grandparents purchased 225 framed pieces of art, the highest sales total ever, students were excited to carry their artwork out of the school, frame and all.  Kindergarten students Zuly Escanio and Jack Hedrick both loved their first year as budding artists.  “It was pretty much fun painting.  I have paints at home and art class is my favorite,” said Zuly.  “I liked using the brushes,” said Jack Hedrick who also pointed out that there are way more colors than just the four he used, though he wasn’t quite ready to pick a ‘favorite’ color.

little girl with a picture of a butterfly

Kindergarten student, Zuly Escanio shows off her beautiful butterfly.

boy and his mom with painting

There was no question that Heather Hedrick was going to purchase the beautiful butterfly created by her son, Jack.

As the show wound down in the Cafeteria, the heat from the “Rain Forest” in the gym could be felt throughout the school.  The decorations and costumes were made and/or assembled by parents and created a true rain forest atmosphere in the gymnasium. 

model of a paper mache rain forest

The audience in the gym was immediately taken into the rain forest by the beautiful decorations and costumes provided by volunteer parents.  

two women by signpost

Two moms, Mandy Verduin and Jamie Dragisic were the creative geniuses for the stage decorations and costumes.  Mrs. Verduin handmade enough costumes for over 80 students! 

Mrs. Santaguida and Music Department Assistant, Amy Dixon quickly started the journey designed to introduce the animals that live in the rain forest to the audience.  Agouties, toucans, red-eyed tree frogs, spider monkeys, blue morpho butterflies and snakes all delighted the audience.  No one could resist an actual slithering snake that popped up just off stage, or any of the several dozen solo snippets performed by adorably garbed second graders. 

little girl at microphone

boys wearing ocelot masks

The costumed solo's were adorable and memorable.

woman in a toucan mask with another woman

Hiding behind that toucan mask is the incomparable music director at Jane Ball, Christine Santaguida with her amazing assistant, Amy Dixon.  

The concert ended all too quickly, but not before Mrs. Santaguida was presented with a gift from her students.  The artwork centered around the message, “Mrs. Santaguida Rocks,” and was signed by every one of her second grade students.  “It is such a privilege to feel so loved by my students and parents,” said Mrs. Santaguida.  “They truly have my heart.”

woman with mask on and sign

Sign made for Mrs. Santaguida by the second grade students.

It was an evening that captured everyone’s heart and created memories that these students will treasure forever.