Published May 30, 2019
ATLANTA—St. Pius X High School, established in 1958, is known for academic excellence and sports. A new tradition started at the school on May 6, placing the school’s art department in the spotlight.
The first Fine Arts College Signing Day was celebrated amid festive gold and blue balloons and posters bearing graduates’ names and college logos. The St. Pius X Arts Society organized the event and held a reception afterward.
Sheila Mohr, co-president of the St. Pius Arts Society, welcomed students, faculty, family and friends who filled the auditorium.
“We are very excited to begin this tradition of special recognition for our top art students enrolled at St. Pius X Catholic High School. We feel this is truly a groundbreaking event and feel fortunate to witness this inaugural ceremony today proving that St. Pius X holds their artists to a higher standard,” she said.
Chad Barwick, president and Steve Spellman, principal, attended.
The twelve students recognized at the event sat on stage in the Monsignor Terry Young Center for the Performing Arts. Each one had rehearsed, practiced and performed many hours in this same auditorium. Their dedication in pursuing studies in the arts had triggered the desires to continue their passion at college.
Mohr continued, “Their passion when these students take to the stage is evident and we are very excited to see them expand upon that as they begin their college careers and beyond. We are very proud of you all.”
‘Love what you do’
Brion Kennedy, fine arts department chair and director of the guitar program, inspired the graduates to build on their firm foundation of academics, faith, work ethic, and the arts, repeating a well-known phrase—“If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”
The faculty from each discipline had time to address senior students. Teachers who guided and inspired the group since their freshman year talked about the growth they witnessed and the dedication shown to the fine arts program.
Gerel McIntosh, director of music technology, emphasized the importance of continuing to learn in the fast-growing tech field. He expressed admiration for his student who he said was always hungry to learn and is now signed to Middle Tennessee State University.
Lindsey Farrell, assistant director of Pius Players, congratulated the drama students. The three students will attend Long Island University Post, Loyola Marymount University and Marymount Manhattan College. The graduates expressed a special thank you to Bonnie Spark for her guidance over the years in Pius Players. Spark is in her 38th year as director of Pius Players and drama instructor.
Lisa O’Connor, in her 21st year as director of dance, spoke of her students whom she had watched grow over the years. Both students, who started dancing at the age of three, are now leaders and an inspiration to other students. These ladies will be attending the University of the Arts and Kennesaw State University.
Chad Paetznick, director of bands, had the honor to congratulate his son who will be attending Georgia College and State University to major in music therapy. He was pleased to announce that his son has a desire to help people with the universal language of music.
A note of pride was detected as Kennedy expressed his admiration for his students’ perseverance. He spoke of the long hours of guitar practice, rehearsals, travel tours and difficult auditions which will prepare them for their future careers in music. The five guitar students honored will be attending Georgia College and State University, University of Georgia, University of Southern California, University of Mississippi and Georgia State University.
The certificates of intent were presented to each student to end the ceremony. The graduates signed their forms and proudly displayed them for the photographer, clearly thrilled to start the new chapter in their lives.
Students signing letters of intent were Emily Foster, University of Southern California; Melani Macik, Georgia State University; Kyle Cochran, University of Georgia; Caroline Hall, University of Mississippi; Gabby McCluskey, Georgia College and State University; Jacob Ruggiero, Middle Tennessee State University; Justin Paetznick, Georgia College and State University; Carmella Durand, Kennesaw State University; Versailles Jones, University of the Arts; Blake Buhler, Long Island University Post; Ava Polvino, Loyola Marymount and Clare Hungeling, Marymount Manhattan College.
An art alumni returned to the school to take photos of the event. A senior student broadcast and recorded the entire event for the school community as well as family members who could not attend the signing.
The first Fine Arts College Signing Day was a wonderful occasion celebrating the futures of these young bright artists who have earned their place on stage.