NEWTON GROVE — Skylar Simmons loves the arts.
Pieces of her passion were displayed Thursday night during All-County Arts Night at Midway High School, which celebrated the work of students from Sampson County Schools and Clinton City Schools. The celebration included visual arts, dance, theater and music.
“I’ve done it my entire life and it’s my entire identity,” Simmons said about her excitement for the arts.
The senior from Clinton High School (CHS) received several first place awards for her work involving methods of putting acrylic on canvass and oil pastels. Like many other students present, Simmons’ appreciation for the arts is very high.
“It gets you thinking outside the box and it also involves critical thinking that’s not utilized in the typical workspace at most institutional schools,” Simmons said.
She collaborated with CHS senior Naomi Miller on a colorful skull design from separate pieces. Miller was impressed with the work of middle school students. She expressed how the quality of their work will improve in the future.
“It’s definitely a lot of talent here, especially with all the younger kids,” Miller said.
Melanie Pascual-Ibanez, a seventh-grader at Hobbton High School, earned a second place ribbon for her work made from papers and crayons on fibers.
“It keeps me calm and it makes me think a lot,” Pascual-Ibanez said.
She enjoyed having her work displayed at the event.
“It’s pretty cool because people can see how much effort was put in their art,” Pascual-Ibanez said.
Dr. Rue Lee-Holmes, arts education coordinator for Sampson County Schools, expressed how it’s important for the community to understand the importance of the field, which is overlooked at times.
“The arts are so important because they teach creative skills,” Lee-Holmes said. “The arts are academic subjects within themselves.”
That discipline was put on display visual in the gymnasium with art pieces from both local school districts. SCS students entertained the crowd in the atrium with dance routines and theatrics. Inside Midway High’s auditorium, Sampson County and Clinton City students played notes together as members of the All-County Band.
Lee-Holmes hopes the students continue to use the arts in some type of way when they become older.
“Through the arts, the kids are learning to express themselves in positive way, which is so needed in this time,” Lee-Holmes said. “They’re also developing their creativity skills and problem. Studying the arts helps them become well-rounded people.”