LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The school year is almost over, but for Derek Lersch, a new life is about to begin.
The 18-year-old Lakewood Ranch High School senior has studied music and been a member of the school choir for several years, while playing in a band and solo when not in school. Derek is about to take the leap into college, studying music business at Full Sail University in Winter Park in the fall. "I'm really excited. I love music. Everything I do is music. My parents believe in me and back me 100 percent," Derek said.
It's an exciting time indeed for Derek and many other artistic students from LRHS who displayed their talents Thursday at a Fine Arts Showcase on Main Street downtown.
A variety of artwork ranging from ceramics to pencil drawings, acrylics, water colors, oil and pastel paintings were donated by students to raise money for the school art fund, which pays for much of the staff and student art supplies. They set up a makeshift sidewalk gallery on tables, easels and benches as parents, students, friends and passersby who were shopping and dining on Main Street showed their support.
Several Lakewood Ranch High School Orchestra members gave a chamber concert performance under the downtown gazebo playing Baroque and Romantic musical selections along with favorites from American film composer John Williams of "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" theme music fame. Down the street, choral counterparts Anna Hickey, Samantha Roller and Derek, accompanied by choir and keyboard teacher, Laurie Pike, serenaded the audience with songs and acoustic guitars.
The art curriculum at Lakewood Ranch High school stresses themed projects accompanied by literal representations as well as higher-level courses that teach business strategies and art collaboration to build leadership skills.
"For this Fine Arts Showcase and fundraiser, we asked students to base the price of
their artwork on the amount of materials they used, the time involved and what they think was a fair and reasonable price. Some students set their own prices and others just wanted to present their work in a gallery but not for sale," said Abby Flanigan, a second-year art teacher. Flanigan said she is proud a Lakewood Ranch High School art student recently won a $35,0000 scholarship to pursue art education at a university in Tennessee.
Senior Alyssa Lambert displayed several paintings and ceramic pieces she designed for school projects. She said she is definitely going to turn her art background into a career when she begins classes at the University of Central Florida.
"Architecture is a form of art that combines math with an artistic eye and I always loved doing it," Alyssa said.
Lakewood Ranch resident Deborah Hossenlopp was out for the evening with her son and small daughter, who heard the music and insisted they visit the art showcase.
"This is a great way to showcase all the hard work these students have done throughout the year, and maybe get some money for the program and help them out," she said, while her 3-year-old daughter, Quinn, danced to the chamber music.
For sophomore Beth Ciemniecki, who came to support her fellow art students along with her dad, Ray, art just comes naturally when a pencil is at hand.
"I'm always drawing and doodling on my papers and when I'm in my room, I'll be drawing or painting," Beth said. "I think it's important to learn the skills. Technology is great, but it's better to be able to do something yourself with your own hands."
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.