The Student News Site of Essex High School

The Hive

The Hive

The Hive

Putting the Cap on Seniors’ AVPA Projects

Essex High School’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) consists of around 80 multi-talented students, all who bring the worlds of music, theater and art together. After their four years in high school come to a close, every student finds a way to memorialize their time as a part of this group. 

Alexis Koch, AVPA leader and EHS choral director, explained the purpose of AVPA.

“The whole point of AVPA is that it is a school within a school,” she said, “so it’s meant as a collective space for more visual and performing artists in the school to create community, to find ways of valuing what their art form is and allowing it to become part of their identity.”

Capstone projects, a way for AVPA 12th graders to explore their artistic careers in a wider range, are the final phase of their years in high school. Koch stated that the students participate in an internship during their 11th grade year to kick-start their projects, through which they “make a connection with” a community member working in a corresponding position.

“And then they culminate the experience in their senior year by doing a capstone project that uses their art form to give back to the community in some way,” Koch said.

AVPA 12th grader Abigail Martin offered insight on her own capstone project. She painted a mural that includes a sunset, mountains and a lake.

“I was kind of inspired by the natural settings of Vermont,” Martin said.

Martin shared that her project entailed large amounts of time and effort, stating that AVPA required each student to spend at least 40 hours on their capstone.

“I did all of the hand painting. But to get a lot of resources and advice I asked the art teacher who has been here forever, Ms. Bradshaw,” Martin said.

12th Grader Xandra Ford also completed a project centered around artwork last semester. Ford spoke about the inspiration behind her project: an old family friend.

“My close family friend Karen Geiger inspired my project,” Ford wrote in an email. “She was really influential throughout my life, both as a person and an artist, so when she passed away in 2022 I knew I wanted to use this project as a way to honor her and her life.”

Xandra Ford’s Gallery at the Community College of Vermont

Ford created a gallery installation of Geiger’s work for her project.

“It focused on telling the story of her life through her artwork and raised money for a scholarship in her name,” she said. 

Griffin Holzman, a 12th grader who co-organized a fashion show called Meraki, was also inspired to honor a cause with his work. His project was in collaboration with Sneha Gurung (another AVPA 12th grader), and they donated the proceeds from the show and a bake sale to UVM for oncology and hematology.

Holzman said that a fashion show was just the way to contribute to something along broader lines. He was “really excited” to work on a larger scale and in collaboration with others. Working with a cause, he said, “made it more important, at least to me.” 

“I was really happy to be able to use my art and work with someone to get things done, [to] help something,” Holzman said. 

Theo Herrin, another 12th grader in AVPA, wrote about how his project connects to his history with the theater community. He wrote a one-act play that the EHS theater program performed in March.

“It was inspired by past one-acts, my love for creative writing and theatre, a desire to make more comprehensive, important ensemble roles in the program, and concepts such as a physicalization of internal struggle onstage,” Herrin said.

Depicting struggle onstage is one thing, but Herrin described the true struggles of taking on the demanding task of composing an entire original piece. 

“One of the main challenges for me was revision,” he wrote. “I found that while I could write lots of scenes very fast, going back and honing them, cutting them down, and ultimately making the best version of themselves that they could be was very difficult, because I would often find that I would come up with a new idea that would end with me completely rewriting scenes.”

Another 12th grader who has participated in past EHS Theater productions, Ari Kuemerle, created a short video, Lights Up, to highlight the EHS theater community. 

“I was inspired by the community we have built in drama… so I knew I wanted to do something relating to theater for my project,” Kuemerle wrote in an email. 

After many hours of hard work put in, Kuemerle believes her capstone project reflects her experience in AVPA very well.

“This project definitely represents my love of theater as I’ve been part of EHS drama since I was a freshman, and I was so excited to bring some more attention to this place that has helped me so much over the years,” she wrote. “I’ve found such a good community in the club and I wanted to show that to the rest of the school and bring some more representation to all the hard work that goes into producing a show.” 

The students believe they have gained meaningful and valuable experiences while creating their projects, growing not only as artists, but as people too.

“I’ve definitely really just delved into art much more deeply,” Martin said. “I’ve taken so many art classes and have just learned a lot of new things.” 

Holzman explained how he gained so much from the project itself as well as the experience of working with others.

“I think it’s really emblematic of how I’ve grown as a person,” Holzman said. “Doing it for a cause which is close to me and working with people; I think working with someone was the biggest part of it because I hadn’t done a lot of collaborative stuff before, and I was really happy with how well it worked.” 

The projects require considerable commitment, but the students say that the work put in is entirely worth it, especially once they see the final product.

“It was a lot of work and took up a lot of my time in and out of school, but it was so rewarding,” Ford wrote.

“It was a massive undertaking that combined the talents of many members of the theatrical community,” Herrin wrote. “I could not be prouder of the result, or more happy with how far I’ve come since freshman year.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hive
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Essex High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Scarlett Cannizzaro
Scarlett Cannizzaro, Staff Writer
Scarlett Cannizzaro is a 10th grader and staff writer for The Hive. She is involved in the EHS orchestra, jazz band, and Global Leadership Program. In her free time she enjoys playing violin, drum set, and ballet. You can contact or find her at [email protected].
Donate to The Hive
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Hive Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *