After school on Friday, December 9th, many of the students and faculty of Southwood Middle School proudly stay late to participate in the second annual Festival of the Arts. Southwood, a nationally recognized magnet school for the arts, is one of the best in Florida.
“This event showcases the magnet programs to the community and helps raise money to beautify our school, for the Media Center and Library in particular,” remarked Fatimah Chaiken, PTSA VP of Programs. “I moved from Chicago where there are few magnet programs and when I saw the jewel we had in our community I knew I had to let the world know, so I created and championed this event.”
Last year the event raised $3000. The goal to fully fund the beautification project is $10,000.
PTSA President Coreyann Espinosa explained, “This is only the second time we’ve had a festival like this where we showcase our art, photography, dance, chorus, band, orchestra and drama. We wanted to bring something like this to the community to promote the great school we have here. We are thrilled to have gotten such cooperation and sponsorship from the Council, Ed Silva and the Parks Department. They put us in touch with all the resources we needed to make this happen.”
8th-grade artist Maria Balderas attributed her success and fun to the teachers and their curriculum, “This is a great opportunity to share my art with everyone, including the students, parents, and neighbors.”
Cameron Palmer, also in 8th grade said, “It's a great place to learn and be with peers. I was almost born with art in my heart and this school is a focal point I can use to expand on my ideas and passion.”
The three-hour event buzzed with activities. There were cheerleader performances, a rock band, student photographers capturing the moments, bounce houses, exhibitions and stage and musical performances.
Mayor Eugene Flinn remarked, “I’m proud of these kids and this school. It’s a pleasure to see som many of our community members coming together.” 7th-grader Dayna Veazey exclaimed, “I’m proud to be in this school and I look forward to being a vet and painting pictures of the animals I’ve helped.”