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North Hills Monthly

Oakland Catholic Arts

Oct 10, 2016 12:28PM ● By Mary Margaret Fisher

Well-known artist Pablo Picasso is quoted as saying, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Like many other artists and musicians, he recognized that creative expression taps into a part of us that transcends cerebral, calculated thinking. It allows a freedom from the constraints of rules and categorization, to express feeling and emotion through a variety of mediums. Unfortunately, we currently live in a time when art and music departments are disappearing in schools across the country, effectively ending dedicated time for all students to have the chance to explore their creative side. To the contrary, Oakland Catholic High School’s Fine Arts department recognizes that outlets for creativity are crucial components of an academic program that benefits the well-being and well-roundedness of its students.

In 2016, Oakland Catholic held its inaugural Spring Arts & Music Festival. The brainchild of the Fine Arts Department faculty members, it serves as a way to share the culmination of students’ creativity over the course of the year with family members and the broader community. The school’s auxiliary gym was transformed into an art gallery for the evening event, displaying a vast array of paintings, sketches, works of pottery, and even mixed-media artwork.  While surveying the creative visual talents on display, attendees were entertained by several musical performances, from the Oakland Catholic High School freshman choir, to concert chorale and chamber singers, as well as the concert band. This event highlighted the vibrant Fine Arts program that exists at Oakland Catholic High School as part of the curriculum, and applauded the artistic expression of all students. The 2017 Spring Arts & Music Festival is slated for May.

In addition to curricular offerings in the Fine Arts, Oakland Catholic High School also provides extra-curricular programs for students looking to pursue these interests outside of the classroom. One of the most popular is Masque, the Drama Club collaboration between Oakland Catholic High School and its brother school Central Catholic High School. Recent productions include the musical performances of The Drowsy Chaperone and FAME.  With two stage productions each year, this Club attracts students interested in performing in dance and song productions for larger audiences, as well as those artists whose creativity rests behind the scenes as part of the Stage Crew. The team building aspect of putting on productions at this scale brings together students with many different backgrounds. “Masque is an awesome club because it draws in people from every spectrum of Oakland and Central Catholic High Schools,” said Maria Belechak, OCHS ’16. “I have made some of my absolute best friends through Masque and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”  

For students who are more interested in the works of Shakespeare, Arthur Miller or August Wilson, the Oakland Catholic Theater Group puts on two non-musical theater productions each year. Like Masque, the club is comprised of students from both Oakland Catholic and Central Catholic High Schools, allowing students to collaborate on stage. Their most recent production included two one-act plays, Goldilocks on Trial and Ladies Night at The Globe. Both plays were fun and wacky, allowing the performers to get away from less serious material and elicit laughs from the audience.

Overall, Oakland Catholic High School continues to encourage creative expression in the Fine Arts as part of the educational experience provided to the young women who attend OC. Whether through a course offering or an extra-curricular activity, any student with even a minimal interest in the arts has the opportunity to explore their creativity in music, art, or acting. It helps to foster ideas, build self-esteem, enhance creativity across the curriculum, and indeed, “wash away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”