Brainerd High School seniors had their moment in the spotlight Monday, May 7, recognized for their fine arts achievements.

BHS hosted its annual Fine Arts and Activities Banquet Monday in the cafeteria, where more than 150 high school seniors were recognized. Each of the seniors, one by one, received recognition as their awards were mentioned at the reception titled "Adventures in Nature."

Students have the opportunity to take part in any of the fine arts programs at the high school including choir, band, orchestra, Brainonian yearbook, Fifth Street Journal newspaper, speech, debate, mock trial, theater, visual arts, TV productions and creative writing. Within each program there are a number of offerings students can participate in, such as painting, pottery, artist books, decoy design, spring musical, symphonic band, concert band, marching band, a cappella choir, honor choir, solo and ensemble concert, wind symphony and more.

Before the program began, students and their parents had a chance to view the Visual Arts Show, while music was provided by the BHS Jazz Ensemble I. The ensemble performed "Sandu" by Clifford Brown during the program.

During the program, 44 Fine Arts Scholars-seniors who maintained a 3.5 grade point average-were recognized. The Brainerd Dispatch initiated the Fine Arts Scholar Medallion in 1999 to honor students, in cooperation with the school. Dispatch Publisher Pete Mohs handed out the awards for the Fine Arts Scholars during the reception.

Brainerd Superintendent Laine Larson, who welcomed parents to the program, said attending the fine arts banquet is one of her favorite things to do, as the arts has always been important to herself and her family. Larson spoke of her daughter, who recently married a BHS graduate. She said they met 13 years ago through the music program at Concordia College.

"The arts have always been important in their lives," Larson said. "She was planning her wedding and incorporated the arts in her wedding. ... She loved her time in choir and it has become an important part of her life. As parents we all know and love to watch our kids be on stage. There is nothing more fun than seeing your child on stage."

Larson also spoke of how the voters in the school district passed the referendum to build a performing arts center and how important that is to the arts.

"Our voters agreed the arts are essential to have a strong school system," Larson said. "I hope all the aspiring art students in this room know the beauty and value of their art to our school district ... I am most appreciative of this wonderful gift (of the arts)."

Activities Director Charlie Campbell said having fine arts activities helps students have a well-rounded experience during their high school career. Campbell said he admires students who chose to participate in fine arts activities. He said students create art or they perform on stage, and then have their work judged by their peers.

"This takes a tremendous amount of courage," he said. "Kids have a lot of choices to make on where they focus their energies and this is one more avenue for them. ... If they have the passion ... they can do more then they ever dreamt they could do."

Several awards were given to students in the visual arts. The fine arts judges are Pat Altrichter, Joseph Hardy, Marlee Larson, Aimee Jambor and Joey Halverson.

Fine Arts and Activities Banquet award winners

Visual arts awards


• Best in Show: Caitlyn Swartwood.

• Most Original: Mikaela Maki.

• Overall Drawing: Kirsten Neistadt won and second place went to Madi Aberle.

• Overall Favorite Realism: EB Archer and and second went to Emily Haug.

• Overall Favorite Painting: Nariah Fett won and second went to Jerusha Barker-Peterson.

• Photography: Hannah Schmaltz won and second went to Thomas Annakala.

• Digital/Graphic Art: Taya Person.

• Overall Pottery: Murphy Hill and Lucy Day tied for the win and second went to Lillian Bjorklund.

• Overall Favorite Artist Book: Elisabeth Buffetta won and second went to Anna Vreeland.

• Overall Favorite Video Game Design: John Toven, Cameron Gliottone and Logan Peterson.

Honorable mentions

• Pottery went to David Kelm, Elisha Burnard, EB Archer and Cameron Jackson.

• Artist Books went to Ayla Madsen.

• Drawing and painting went to Jaydah Robinson, Rebekah Karpinski, Gracie Miles, Tabitha Cramer and Lauren Crabtree.

• Photography went to Jeb Duinick.

Leadership awards-Other fine arts

• Maria Bell for orchestra.

• Romeo Hall and Elizabeth Ortmeier for theater.

• Thea Fischer and Laura Wadsten for Youth in Government.

• Ellie Hughes earned the Patrick S. Gilmore Band Award.

• Preston Owen earned the John Phillips Sousa Band Award.

• Ortmeier and David Nibbe, choir.

• Kirsten Schroer and Taylor Krassas, speech.

• Josiah Wood for mock trial.

• Anna Vreeland for Fifth Street Journal.

• Owen for TV Production.

Lay Person of the Year

• Shirley Freeman, a BHS secretary. Freeman has been instrumental in putting the fine arts banquet together for the past few decades, Lea Anderson, a BHS art teacher, said.