The Athens City Schools Fine Arts Department presented the inaugural One Athens Christmas Showcase in December at Athens Middle School. This collaborative event was an opportunity for the Athens community to see, hear and experience all the student accomplishments in the fine arts.

Donnell House tree decorated by teachers Dana Pressnell  and Kristin Black

This was the first K-12 fine arts holiday program presented by ACS. All schools were represented in music and visual arts. Students from every school performed throughout the evening. The showcase ended with a full holiday concert featuring the AHS Concert Jazz Band. All departments exhibited student work.

Amanda Gudmundsson is the Fine Arts Director for ACS. She said the planning of this event was meant to be inclusive as an example of the One Athens initiative as set forth by the Board of Education. Student talent was highlighted across disciplines, at one time and in one place. This reflected the principle of One Athens.

Student artwork on display lined the halls while cocoa and cookies were served to guests

“We are One Athens. We want to prove how essential a part of the process the fine arts are in creating and providing for the whole student in ACS. Our goal is to create a holistic environment for students where the arts and athletics complement our growth as a system.” – Amanda Gudmundsson, ACS Fine Arts

One Athens is the guiding principle of the ACS Five-Year Strategic Plan. It is the overriding, all encompassing, collaborative spirit that seeks to knit our schools and community together through initiatives that are both instructional and conceptual. It seeks to create an identity that is clearly focused on partnerships and working in harmony toward mutually beneficial goals for students, teachers and the community.

Art teacher Leah Pierce with Julian Newman students

Leah Pierce is an art teacher for Athens City Schools. Pierce says there is value in coming together to share the arts.

“I love for my students to have the opportunity to show off their artwork. I think it gives them a sense of pride in their efforts. Many students who are not the best in other subjects may excel in art. I also look forward to the festive atmosphere we will share with people in our community. It is a great way to get families out where they will interact and feel a sense of pride in what a good school district we have.” – Leah Pierce, Art Teacher

The event was a valuable experience for students. Elementary students got a glimpse of what they have to look forward to as they move forward through the system. Older students were given the opportunity to exercise leadership. Exposure for their talents will help develop confidence in their abilities. Family, friends and community members were enriched and encouraged by a renewed sense of Athenian spirit and connection.


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