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Cape May and Cumberland counties hold first joint Teen Arts Festival

Students from Cape May and Cumberland counties flooded High Street in Millville on Friday, April 5, for the first Cape May & Cumberland Counties Teen Arts Festival.

One-hundred-twenty students from Cape May County joined the event representing four area schools: Ocean City High School, Wildwood Catholic High School, Middle Township High School and Richard M. Teitelman Middle School in the Lower Cape May Regional district.

Students had opportunities to perform their craft in front of their peers and receive professional adjudication in person and in writing, while their visual artwork hung in gallery space for the entire festival to view.

The one-day event featured many innovative components, all designed to enhance the ability and careers of Cumberland and Cape May counties' young artists, ages 13-19, and to promote the importance of arts education in the schools.

Workshops and master classes were held throughout the day at the Arts and Innovation Center and Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts. Among the list of instructors were three Cape May County business professionals who enthralled the students with their nontraditional workshops. Rebel Image Tattoo owner Mike Siderio covered not just the art of tattooing, but the responsibilities of a tattoo artist.

Tony Palaia, NBDdesigns & Rapid Ding Repair, succeeded in connecting with every artist in the room through his surfboard design and construction class, incorporating aspects of not only art but engineering, mathematics and chemistry.

St. Bab’s Executive Director Will Keenan, provided a digital workshop on gaining online influence with your art. The workshops and master classes helped students develop perceptual, intellectual and technical skills; gain cultural awareness and understanding of various art forms; and develop personal aesthetic values.

Despite soggy weather, Paige Benson, of Pyrography by Paige, managed to hold down an outdoor education booth. Students had an opportunity to watch live woodburning demonstrations and even create their own pieces to take home at no cost.

Representatives from local arts organizations, arts centers, colleges and universities such as Atlantic Cape Community College, Ocean City Theatre Company, Naval Air Station Wildwood and the Cape May County Library had information booths at the festival. Students were given an opportunity to obtain materials and question the education institutions about their programs and scholarship opportunities.

“This is a real coming together opportunity for the arts,” said Freeholder E. Marie Hayes. “It’s wonderful to know so many from Cape May County came together to make this event possible for our students.”

The festival is not a competition, rather a day to focus on sharing achievements and learning. Students who excelled in their particular art form were selected to be sent to the state level. Those of excellence in the visual arts category were invited to have their work tour the state for one calendar year. Only students who are invited to participate can be adjudicated by state level judges. Scholarships are available at the state level.

Those advancing to the NJ State Teen Arts Festival are as follows:

Visual Arts-State Traveling:

Cathryn O’Boyle, Ocean City High School

Emma Horner, Ocean City High School

Sadie Debennaro, Ocean City High School

Visual Arts-State Selection:

Nicole Cappolina, Ocean City High School

Robin Altman, Ocean City High School

Olivia Eggie, Ocean City High School

Jessica Chattin, Ocean City High School

McKenna Fuller, Ocean City High School

Dance-State Selection:

Group 2, Ocean City High School

Small Vocal- State Selection:

Lena Dougherty, Middle Township High School

Small Instrumental Group- State Selection:

Trumpets, Richard M. Teitelman Middle School

Filmmaking- State Selection:

Sofia Lomax, Middle Township High School

Creative Writing- State Selection:

Taylor Stauffer, Ocean City High School

Poetry-State Selection:

Ava Kuehner, Ocean City High School

Grace Kelly, Ocean City High School

The State Teen Arts Festival will be held May 29 through 31 at Ocean County College in Toms River. The Cape May County Department of Tourism, Public Information and Culture & Heritage will facilitate and submit all advancing artwork to the state festival. For more information regarding the State Teen Arts Festival, see

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