• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Former Simmons Elementary students return for Arts Day

Arts Day gives former students an opportunity to come back to Simmons Elementary School and share their enthusiasm for the visual and performing arts with current students.

Many of the Simmons Elementary alums are now students at Woodford County middle or high school. Others, like Hanna Leatherman, are working in art professions.

As coordinator of family and community programs at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., Leatherman doesn’t create art, but instead plans activities and helps with exhibitions so people of all ages have a better understanding of visual art.

“… Not just what you’re seeing, but why it matters,” said Leatherman, who graduated from Woodford County High School in 2011. She described The Clark as a place where people learn that art museums are a place for them.

“It’s relevant to their everyday life,” said Leatherman.

She majored in art history at Transylvania University, and earned many awards for her own artistic talents as a senior, but was unaware of

The Clark before she began searching for career opportunities online. That Google search landed her an internship and then a career at an art institution, which she now describes as “a really great fit.”

Leatherman became interested in the visual arts at an early age. She didn’t fall asleep on family outings to art museums, but instead became a wide-eyed toddler when surrounded by paintings, explained mom Holly Tincher.

That passion for the visual arts becomes apparent when Leatherman shares her thought about artwork by Frederic Remington, painter of the American West. “I like this one, not just because it’s beautiful. Of course it’s beautiful. This snowy scene … makes you feel how cold it is.”

More importantly, she appreciates the ambiguity of where the painting’s subject – a cowboy – is looking. “Are they looking for shelter? Will they find it?

“… There’s just a lot to dig into here.”

Simmons music teacher Sabrina Bowmer said she enjoys welcoming back former students still involved or working in the arts. And for those students who choose a path in vocal or instrumental music, “I hopefully, maybe put a little spark in them to keep doing music,” she said.

A saxophone quartet from Woodford County High School that performed several musical selections during Arts Day featured two

Simmons alums, Keaton Martin and Macey Wade.

“I just remember being younger and wanting to play an instrument,” said Macey.

She credits music for helping her make friends and focus on her studies. And when she’s “stressed out about school,” the WCHS junior always has her instrument. The many hours she must devote to marching band have also made her better at managing her time, she explained.

Greg Marsee, who teaches orchestra classes in every school across the district, said giving his older string musicians an opportunity to perform at Arts Day may also pique a younger student’s interest.

“I always tell my kiddos that we play to,” said Marsee, “that they can join orchestra in the fifth grade and then it continues on in middle school and high school.”

If a student doesn’t find a niche in the orchestra program, Marsee said the vocal music or instrumental band programs may be a better fit.

“We’re proud to support each other,” he said.

“It’s just good to have the arts being supported in the building – not just through the students, but through the (school’s) administration as well.”

Marsee said he has seen students mature – musically and academically – because of the focus they need as musicians.

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