Art from the heart for Tonganoxie High students at Highland CC event

Tonganoxie High students gather after returning home from a successful day at Highland Art Day on April 27 at Highland Community College. Enlarge photo

May 10, 2017

HIGHLAND — A van full of artwork and sculptures followed a school bus full of young Tonganoxie artists out of the Tonganoxie High School parking lot way too early last month.

THS art students headed north April 27 to Highland Art Day for what has become an esteemed Highland Community College tradition.

This year, the event drew 580 students and 1,100 art pieces.

And for those THS students who departed at 6 a.m., it was worth it. After all, there was the traditional breakfast stop at the McDonald’s in Atchison.

After the 90-minute drive, THS student filed out of the bus and carried THS entries into the Waters Wellness Center for display and judging.

Each school could submit 30 pieces, as Tonganoxie was one of nearly 40 schools participating in the 37th annual Highland Art Day.

After Tonganoxie put up its artwork, students meandered through the rows of entries. Soon after, students dispersed to other workshops and competitions, including a sidewalk chalk challenge, a clay sculpting exercise and self-portrait competition.

A handful of THS artists worked on the sidewalk chalk as others, tasked with creating an X-Men themed clay sculpture, molded the clay down the way from the sidewalk chalk on a sunny but chilly Kansas morning. It’s a big day at Highland, as classes are canceled that day each year, though this year the HCC football team was practicing next door at Kessinger Field.

Inside another HCC building, there was a photographic transfer competition, scavenger hunt and self-portrait, mini clay and throwing competitions.

“The art is just kind of going all day,” said Amy Johnson, THS art teacher.

Johnson rode the bus with students while fellow THS teacher William Shirley drove the van filled to the brim with artwork.

Students buzzed about their various competitions throughout the day. The self-portraits were a timed competition, so some students talked about those challenges, such as frantically drawing her hair, as it was the last task with time winding down.

Around 2 p.m. the Tonganoxie contingency grabbed seats inside Culbertson Auditorium.

Former HCC art insructors Teresa Harris and David Harris, now at Missouri Western State University, were judges for the day.

Tonganoxie competed in the larger-school division. THS had a good day.

As an art official announced THS first place in the art history competition, Tonganoxie students erupted into cheers as they threw up their arms.

Moments later, THS won second place in that X-Men clay competition. As final awards and door prizes were distributed, students filed out of the auditorium and back to the wellness center. It was time to load back up the van and head home after another successful art day for Tonganoxie students.

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