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Students' creativity on display during ODA's first Festival of the Arts

The Festival of the Arts featured various forms of visual arts and included interactive art projects and a fashion show.

The Out-of-Door Academy upper school students and staff work on a tape mural featuring the mascots of the school's house system.
The Out-of-Door Academy upper school students and staff work on a tape mural featuring the mascots of the school's house system.
Photo by Liz Ramos
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Wilkes Borden, a freshman at The Out-of-Door Academy, has always loved taking casual clothing and adding his own twist.

Whether it involves new fabric to add a pocket to a shirt, or recreating Balenciaga sweatpants, he likes to alter his clothing to be different but not over the top. 

He sees fashion as a way to express himself. 

When art teacher Sandra Romero approached Borden about The Out-of-Door Academy’s Festival of the Arts, which was to include a fashion show, Borden knew he wanted to participate. 

This year’s Festival of the Arts on April 12 was a first for the school.

Erick Crowe, the director of fine and performing arts, said previous art festivals the school hosted have focused on the performing arts. The school's staff wanted to give an opportunity for students with passion for the visual arts to showcase their work.  

Senior Joaquin Garcia Argibay uses stickers to add to the obliteration room, which was originated by artist Yayoi Kusama.
Photo by Liz Ramos

Students’ work was on display, including digital photography, ceramics, paintings and drawings. 

Throughout the day, students were able to participate in interactive art projects. 

On the second floor of the school's fine arts building, there was the obliteration room, which will continue to be a standing art display for the ODA's 100th anniversary next school year.

Students placed stickers of various colors in an area decorated to look like a bedroom. The project was inspired by artist Yayoi Kusama and is meant to look like the hallucinations Kusama experienced as a child when her vision was clouded by spots. 

Students also participated in the neon paint room where they painted black paper with neon paint in the dark. 

Another interactive project was for the high school students. They worked together to create a tape wall mural that featured the mascots of the school’s house system as well as other ODA symbols. 

Students also participated in workshops with representatives from community arts organizations, like Embracing Our Differences, and professionals, such as a toy designer. 

“It’s been exciting to bring those people from the community here because kids don’t always get to see that type of artwork or get those connections,” Crowe said. 

Festival of the Arts culminated in The Out-of-Door Academy’s first fashion show for the high school.

Students teamed up to create outfits with a botanical gardens theme. They showed off their creations while walking down the runway in front of their classmates.

Students were instructed to use certain materials, such as paper, to incorporate into their outfits. 

Freshman Ella Hildoer says she was nervous making her way down the runway, but she had fun. She loved every aspect of her outfit.
Photo by Liz Ramos

Borden said incorporating paper was a challenge. He worked with freshman Bebhinn Ryan, who was his model. They both decided she would look best in red. To incorporate paper and the botanical gardens theme, they chose to make origami roses out of paper. 

Borden said he liked seeing the progress of where they started with the design and how it came to fruition on the runway. 

Freshman Sonya Pandya always loved arts and crafts and saw the fashion show as a new artistic challenge. She and her model freshman Ella Hildoer decided to use a white dress as a base and research various ways to incorporate the botanical theme. 

They added flowers and decided to focus on the accessories to elevate the outfit. They had to think about every aspect of the presentation, from head to toe. Pandya enjoyed deciding the hairstyle, jewelry, shoes and makeup. 

“I never knew how much work it would be to think of so many little details,” Pandya said. 

The pièce de résistance was the umbrella Hildoer carried down the runway. They put vines all over it and had them dangling from the umbrella. They decided to have vines wrapped around each of her calves as well. Pandya thought the vines were one of the main aspects the audience appreciated. 

The students participating in the fashion show had expert guidance from Brad Kroenig, an ODA parent and a model with 25 years of experience. 

He has traveled around the world as a model, working for brands including Chanel, Ralph Lauren, GAP and Peter Miller. 

Kroenig shared tips with the models that included walking with confidence and swagger, striking various poses, holding their heads up and keeping their posture straight. He explained the importance of choosing the right music and interacting with the crowd.

“I told them with fashion, there’s really no right or wrong answer. You do whatever you feel and whatever you want to express, and that’s the cool thing about it,” he said. “Some businesses are very black or white, it has to be this way or no way. In fashion, you can do whatever you want.”

Models took Kroenig’s advice into consideration. 

Ryan opened the umbrella she was carrying and struck a pose with it at the end of the runway while Ellen Zitani, a history teacher, tossed the paper flowers she was holding at the judges. 



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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