Gibbons educators and student leaders plus more than 100 younger students equals the third annual Middle School Leadership Conference.
Participants in this year's conference, held at Gibbons on March 23, came from area middle schools. During the event, which ran from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the eighth graders attended a welcome and opening activity as well as several information and learning sessions, each led by Gibbons student leaders. The sessions focused on such topics as leadership, trust, learning from failure, and public speaking.
Science educators and alumnae Lauren Gentile '04 and Gabi Burn '08 spent the last year helping Gibbons students plan the event. The intent of the conference is to spark the growth of leadership from a younger age and instill skills that conference participants can share in their school community when they return.
Joseph Gehrig, an eighth-grader at St. Thomas More School in Chapel Hill, said that by attending the conference he learned some valuable lessons. Among them are that "everyone has qualities to be a leader," he said, "and throughout your life, you will meet failure, but what makes you great is that you work through them."
He said he hopes to attend Gibbons next year, joining his sister, Lauren '19, and putting what he learned at the conference to use.
In the current production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat freshman Anna Derr is cast as one of the brothers, a role her sister, a Gibbons alum, played years ago.
This is the third time sophomore Caity Ferguson has been in the musical, and it is the second time for junior Emily Curtis.
All these student-actors are part of a treasured Gibbons Drama tradition that started 12 years ago, with the show, now in its third reincarnation, produced every four years, Kevin Ferguson, the department's artistic director said.
Among the reasons is that the show reflects the values of the drama program, he noted, adding, "It only works if everyone contributes." As an ensemble production, it builds strong bonds of friendships among the students, he said, noting that "everyone gets an opportunity to be a part of the Joseph tradition."
Just ask sophomore Quinn Rollar (pictured above, first row, far left) who plays one of the brothers. "I believe that the best part of Joseph ... would have to be the overwhelming sense of family," he said. "When you begin in the rehearsal process.. you're all a bunch of strangers, basically; then by the end you're all one big, crazy family."Despite the number of times it has been produced, the musical is never the same with new elements added, scenes re-staged and different actors. The show boasts a student choreographer and the largest cast with 45 actors.
"We strive to put on a professional level show so I want the audience to forget they are watching a high school production," Ferguson said. "More important, I want them to see how the students love and support one another."
A stoneware clay bust of a woman and a mixed-media collage were the works of art that earned two Gibbons students national art awards, placing their pieces in the top 1 percent of the more than 330,000 works of art submitted to the 2017 Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards Program. Senior Isabella Crabtree received a national gold medal for her dramatic sculpture and Avery Ang, a junior, received a national silver medal for her collage depicting her family heritage.
Isabella will be heading to New York City to be recognized during a ceremony for national gold medal awardees on June 8 at Carnegie Hall. Her sculpture will be exhibited in June at the Parson's School of Design gallery in mid-town Manhattan.
"I was surprised. I thought it must be a mistake," Isabella said of her initial reaction to receiving the honor. "Then I was excited to tell my parents who said they were very proud." Isabella's mother, Johanna '92, is a Gibbons alumna.
Avery said her initial reaction to winning the silver medal was disbelief, which turned to "happiness and excitement."
Both students are among the 22 Gibbons student-artists who received 45 regional gold or silver awards or received honorable mention in the program's regional competition.
"It is wonderful for the students to be honored and recognized for their creativity," said Rebecca Dason, chair of the Fine Arts Department.