by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Before students head over to the Franklin High School Theater for the ARTS ALIVE! performance, Franklin High School Dance Department Director Julana Torres makes a Head to Toe Inspection, to ensure the performers are properly groomed, dressed, and ready to go on stage and perform like the professionals they are becoming.In its second year, Franklin High School’s ARTS ALIVE! Festival showcased its students’ finest accomplishments in creative and performance art on Labor Day weekend, May 24 and 25.

ARTS ALIVE! is a collaboration that began last year, to bring all of the school’s art departments together for a public presentation at the end of the school year, explained Franklin High School Dance Department Director Julana Torres.

“It features dance, drama, live music, and a fine arts gallery,” Torres told THE BEE before the Sunday matinee show. “The gallery features all kinds of fine arts, from drawing and painting to sculpture and ceramics. And, here in our theater, it brings together our finest actors, musicians, and dancers. ARTS ALIVE! is a showcase for the efforts of our talented students.”

On the performance side, some 200 students were involved in the two-day festival, she said.

“There has been a huge resurgence in art education at Franklin; the program has been growing immensely for the past two years,” Torres explained. “We’re trying to continue inspiring our students and to keep them engaged in the arts.”

Arts constitute more than just “fun and easy” classes, Torres said. “The arts can be a powerful tool to get and keep students involved in school. These programs reach kids who haven’t been touched before. After all, not everyone’s involved in sports. And, arts programs are a way to reach and engage non-traditional learners.

“Some of the students have come into an arts class thinking that it’s going to be an easy grade, or else something they won’t enjoy,” Torres went on. “But now they’ve found their love and their heart within the arts. When they feel the success in this area, it transfers on to other areas of the study, and into their lives outside the school.”

Moments before Franklin High Drama Instructor Josh Forsythe stepped on stage to welcome the audience, he paused to agree with Torres that the showcase is important, because it’s an opportunity to celebrate the work they’re doing throughout the year. “It gives the greater community the opportunity to see the progress of our writers and actors.”

Some of our student actors in the showcase were performing self-written monologues, or solo shows, that they had created as part of the “Visions and Voices” playwriting program, Forsythe added.

“As a school, we are growing, and wanting to become known as the school that offers a good performing arts program. We do have good creative programs, and during ARTS ALIVE! we share them with the world.”

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