WATAUGA – The Watauga Education Foundation featured student artists and musicians at the Shooting Stars Visual Arts Reception and Musical Showcase on April 1 at the Jones House and King Street Art Collective.
Shooting Stars is an annual event that features the artwork and musical talent of students from the Watauga County Public School System. In the previous year, this event took place at the Schaffer Center on Appalachian State University’s campus. Due to the impacts COVID-19, the event was canceled in 2020 and artwork was available for viewing online. In 2021, artwork was displayed at the Jones House for the month of April but there was no reception.
Due to this change, performance arts have not been featured since 2019. This year, the visual art reception was at the Jones House while student musicians played at the King Street Art Collective.
Following the two-year break, WEF President Erika Hudspeth was excited to celebrate students this year.
“This year, we’re back being able to host a reception and we’re super excited,” said Hudspeth. “We’re just happy to be able to include a little bit of the performance arts portion to our Shooting Stars event for this year.”
Hudspeth said in previous years students submitted art and were interviewed on their work. There used to be a judging process, but this year the organization wanted to highlight “any and all” arts in the schools. She shared that she is inspired to continue Shooting Stars with interviews of the artists of previous years.
“Hearing those visual artists tell their stories about what their artwork was about was just so fun. It was so fun to be able to hear them express what their art meant to them,” said Hudspeth. “To see what having art in schools means to the students and these teachers and the benefits that go along with it, it’s more than just drawing a picture.”
The Watauga Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization made up of a board of volunteers that has been around for a little more than 30 years. Their mission is to celebrate students and educators while supporting their work through events, scholarships and grants.
Though Shooting Stars and the WEF Flap-Jack Flip events raise some money, the majority of funding is from sponsorships from local businesses and individuals. Each year, WEF provides classroom grants, teacher scholarships and a student scholarship for a graduating Watauga High School senior. Despite the pause in programming the past two years, WEF has been able to continue this financial support for education in the community.
Hudspeth shared her appreciation for sponsors and the community members who helped make Shooting Stars possible this year.
“We’re really appreciative of the King Street Art collective opening their space to us… and the Jones House has been amazing to work with,” said Hudspeth. “We’re happy to be able to have both visual and performing artists participate.”