SPPS student Cooper Ruhe points to his artwork
SPPS student Cooper Ruhe points to his artwork

CONTINENTAL—Talented students from all nine school districts displayed works of breathtaking visual art, and the county choir and the county band performed musical selections that were simply amazing at the fourth annual Putnam County Arts Festival. As one patron noted, “This is the Super Bowl of the Putnam County art world!”

The event was held Sunday, March 12, at Continental High School. The Putnam County Educational Service Center sponsored the festival, which was funded through the Ohio Arts Council. Gary Herman and Melissa Basinger, Curriculum Coordinators at the ESC, co-coordinated the event.

Elementary students’ artwork lined the hallways leading to the Irene Casteel Auditorium, where the high school students’ objets d'art were located. Philip Sugden, the Gallery Director of the Grace Albrecht Gallery at Bluffton University, and an Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Bluffton University, was the guest judge for the high school entries. He had commented to Ms. Basinger about the excellent quality and craftsmanship of the pieces; he believed they were comparable to college-level work. Sugden selected 15 works that were awarded “Best of Show” rosettes, created by: Breanne Eickholt, Destinee Keefer, Hannah Troyer (two awards), and Parker Wildermuth (Continental); Lindsey Sellman and Devyn Wiechart (Fort Jennings); Racheal Basinger (Kalida); Maranda Barger, Kylie Niese, Makenna Ricker, and Tiffany Welty (Miller City-New Cleveland); Megan Burgei (Ottoville); and Keri Burkhart and Logan Scoles (Pandora-Gilboa).

Each of the nine Putnam County School Districts’ respective directors selected high school students to participate in the band and choir. The groups met on just three occasions to rehearse prior to their performances on Sunday; two practices were held at Bluffton University.

The choir’s guest conductor was Dr. Mark J. Suderman, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Bluffton University. The vocalists performed five songs, including “Blackbird,” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Carolyn McDaniel accompanied the choir. Sixteen students received their four-year participation plaques: Noah Oglesbee, Alyssa Ridinger, and Gracyn Stechschulte (Columbus Grove); Danica Basinger (Kalida); Rebekah Flores (Leipsic); Brooke Beach, Alex Heebsh, Alex Hoehn, Gage Hoehne, Lilly Joseph, Jeffrey Kaufman, Amanda Sahloff, Jake Schriner, Abby Stechschulte, and Nicole Teffenhardt (Ottawa-Glandorf); and Maizee Brinkman (Ottoville).

Dr. Roy Couch, Director of Bands and Recruiting Coordinator for the Department of Music at Bluffton University, served as the band’s guest conductor. Their five musical selections included an intricate piece, “Undertow.” Thirteen students received their four-year participation plaques: Noah Ebling, Madeline Flores, Josh McCauley, and Leah Myerholtz (Columbus Grove); Devyn Wiechart (Fort Jennings); Hannah Kahle (Kalida); Griffin Brinkman, Griffin Burwell, Corrine Halker, and Brad Schmitz (Ottawa-Glandorf); Rebecca Violet (Ottoville); and Wade McCullough and Kyle Verhoff (Pandora-Gilboa).

The musical show concluded with a combined choir and band performance of “Salute to America’s Finest,” a selection that had been arranged especially for the arts festival. Four Continental veterans presented the colors as all branches of the United States Armed Forces were honored.