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Pride of the Pioneers

Frankford’s finest: Approximately 150 students participated in Frankford High School’s inaugural Arts Coffee House showcase, which showed off talents from the school’s brand new band and choir, as well as talents like ceramics, cooking, photography, painting, drama and more. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTOS

One wouldn’t know school was not in session walking into Frankford High School the night of Thursday, Dec. 14.

The school was packed with students, parents and faculty exploring the hallways, classrooms and auditorium to appreciate a wide variety of student-created art.

The night marked the school’s first Arts Coffee House, meant to celebrate the arts of Frankford students. Even though it was a new event for the school, the amount of student participation made it seem like a long-running tradition.

Approximately 150 students participated or had work on display at the event, which displayed art forms ranging from film, live musical performances, ceramics, photography, culinary arts, paintings, dramatic performances and more.

And throughout it all, the support students had for each other was clear.

Just ask Bre Reyes, a senior who transferred to the school this year.

She took the microphone to perform Someone Like You, a pop ballad by artist Adele, with her duet partner Laila Weems.

But when she was halfway through the vocally challenging first verse, the music cut out due to a technical error — a singer’s worst nightmare, especially when they’re standing in a hallway surrounded by an audience. Bre said she was already nervous because she was new to the school and didn’t know too many people.

But she didn’t miss a beat. The audience didn’t let her. They picked up clapping the beat and she continued seamlessly until the music cut back in.

“I just went with the flow, and it all worked out,” she said. “When I came back to the school [in September], I thought I wasn’t going to fit in because it was senior year, but I started talking to these girls that I met and it’s going well.”

Starting a new school hasn’t stopped her from having perfect attendance and landing on the honor roll.

The hallway thundered in applause after she and Laila finished, just as it did when Kenneth Purvis finished his energetic performance of I’m Still Standing and Julianna Corbin and Jamil Dabney performed Jar of Hearts.

Hitting all the notes: Kenneth Purvis kicked off the solo vocal performances with an energetic rendition of Elton John’s I’m Still Standing. Students, parents and faculty watched the performance while touring the school’s arts display.

The event was organized by Joy Weir, an ArtistYear teaching fellow assigned to spend the year at the school. ArtistYear is an AmeriCorps-funded national service organization dedicated to providing underserved students with access to arts education.

Previously a Drexel University student, Weir had experience putting together events like this before.

“I did it before, so I figured I could do it again here,” she said.

As it turned out, students were more than eager to sign up.

All funds went toward respective arts departments at the school. Artwork, ceramics and food were all on sale to fund their respective departments, and the charge at the door was split among different departments.

There were also T-shirts, hoodies and raffle prizes for sale.

The school’s new band and choir made themselves known by performing in the halls. The band has grown to about 30 students in its first few months, and continues to grow.

Weir also hopes money can be put toward some sort of production in the spring, whether it’s a full musical or simply another artistic showcase.

“We have amazing sports programs here, but I think there are some kids who were looking for other things who were eager to fill that hole,” Weir said.

Weir credited principal Michael J. Calderone for the advances the school has made in its artistic programs this year.

“It has been exciting to watch our students express themselves through various media and experience a great deal of success by engaging in our expanded arts curriculum,” Calderone said. ••

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