Valparaiso Community Schools presented the 40th annual This Is Our Story Festival of the Arts at Valparaiso High School Monday evening. The program inspired a strong sense of community with the beauty of music, all while sharing the excitement of the holiday season. Students of all ages showcased their artistic abilities with their artwork, instruments, and voices.
“We are here tonight to celebrate our values of our students while basking in their efforts as they continue to better themselves, better each other, and better their community,” Dr. James McCall, Assistant Superintendent and this year’s Master of Ceremonies, said.
McCall emphasized how impressed he was with the talent and work ethic of 1,100 performers involved in the concert. He noted that the support of the community has been essential in fostering the youths’ artistic abilities.
“Our schools enjoy excellent support from the community overall, but especially when it comes to our music and arts programs,” McCall said. “During a time when schools are canceling their music and performing arts, Valpo continues to support and invest in these programs.”
The event’s brochure echoed McCall's sentiments by stating the school's philosophy: "We believe the arts are an integral part of a comprehensive education. Why? Because the arts enable students to recognize and appreciate beauty, to be more sensitive, more compassionate, more understanding—in short, to be fully human, capable of enjoying and experiencing life as it is meant to be lived."
According to Tom Meyer, music teacher with Valparaiso Community Schools, this concert is a tradition that he feels privileged to be a part of every year.
“Tonight is an excellent event for the City of Valpo and it brings everyone together for the holiday season,” Meyer said.
Meyer believes that it is a great opportunity for students and parents to see the different levels of talent. In addition, teachers can see their music students move through the ranks and develop their skills, while younger students can aspire to reach higher levels.
While This Is Out Story showcases the musical talents of Valpo students, it also puts a focus on the visual art created by students. Outside the gymnasium doors, artwork by students from around the school system was on display for everyone to appreciate.
Jamie Fanelli came to the event to see her son’s artwork that was displayed in the hallway. Her younger children enjoyed checking out the music in the gymnasium, and Fanelli relayed that tonight was a great way to welcome the holiday season.
“It’s great that we have somewhere to go to admire art as a family while supporting the community,” Fanelli said. “It puts us in the holiday spirit to listen to the Christmas songs and gives the kids exposure to wonderful music and art.”
Suzanne Barnes joined the evening’s festivities in support of her daughter’s friend, who performed in the orchestra.
“We love our community and value it, and we love supporting the young people,” Barnes said. “We’re doing our part in supporting their activities and are so happy that Valparaiso Community Schools bring everyone together this way.”
For more information about Valparaiso Community Schools and upcoming events, please visit their website.