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More than just an art show

IHSAE provides opportunities, rewards

Lucy Sloan, Copy editor

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The Illinois High School Art Exhibition is more than just the largest high school art show in Illinois.

“The show is not just about competition, it’s about advocacy through exhibition for the arts,” Art teacher Jackie Wargo said.

IHSAE assistant director Dave Sykora explains how exhibition contributes to advocacy.

“Overall, the organization is about connecting, exposing and advocating for student artists and art education programs,” Sykora said. “The exhibition highlights the unbelievable talents of our students, which in turn provides validation for what art programs do for student learners.”

Sykora said that IHSAE also coordinates with Illinois policymakers to support the arts in education.

One of IHSAE’s efforts to help art students is a college fair for show participants, which can be very helpful for those who are unsure of the possibilities of a major in the arts and require scholarships to do so.

“We envisioned this much like a high school sports model. There are state championships in sports, and colleges recruit athletes by making scholarship offers based on their performances in the sporting events,” Sykora said. “Non-seniors get access to early college scholarships which increases recruitment for the college and enhances high school programs.”

Furthermore, some students are awarded summer art classes, and winning students are awarded up to $500.

IHSAE is statewide, unlike the smaller, regional shows H-F students may be used to. Over 100 schools participate, and each school is only permitted five entries. Needless to say, it’s very competitive.

Junior Emma Novak participated in the show last year as well as other shows. She said there was a significant difference between IHSAE and other shows that she’s been in.

“It was a really large show compared to the other ones,” Novak said. “I think [the difference is] the other pieces, like the competition is stiffer.”

Wargo said that such a bigger scale requires much more effort.

“The scale is just bigger. It is gigantic, it really is,” Wargo said. “It requires a team of dedicated people. It’s not anyone’s full time job, so we have to make time for it outside of the school day.”

Wargo is certainly making time for it outside of her school day as a new member of the board.

“The guys on the IHSAE board came to me and asked me if I would be willing to take on the position of the general exhibition coordinator; it’s an executive board position,” Wargo said.

She said that her participation as a board member was about helping students, not just coordinating a show.

“There’s just so much that goes on with the show that’s so great for high school students that I couldn’t turn down the offer to help not only our students, but students throughout the state,” Wargo said.

IHSAE strives to offer students opportunities to further their art education. In fact, IHSAE has officially been recognized as a non-profit organization, and their work doesn’t stop there.

The organization recently applied for a grant in the hopes of offering students more scholarships and opportunities.

“If we get more money off the grant, then we can offer more programs and more opportunities for the kids,” Wargo said.

This year’s show was held on Feb. 26 at Zhou B Gallery in Chicago.

Senior Sarah Weiner, senior Brenden Smith, junior Taylor Ausley and junior Emma Novak won awards.

H-F was the only school to have four student winners.

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