PCC’s annual Commencement Contest took a new spin this year, adding an evening to showcase the talents of all the first place winners at the Commencement Awards Concert.
Dr. Amy Bombard, dean of visual and performing arts, said, “This year, the art, music, speech, and writing areas wanted to showcase all of the hard work of our students. This evening’s program and gallery opening allow us to do just that.”
Lyle Fleming (So., FL), winner of the Brass category for his piece “Andante and Allegro,” was not initially planning to enter the contest. However, four days before the competition began, his teacher told him he should enter. “I was absolutely blown away when I found out that I had won,” he said. “I did not expect it at all. Playing in the Commencement Awards Concert is another way that I can glorify God through the talents that He gave me.”
During the Commencement Awards Concert, the audience also enjoyed dramatic presentations and original essays. For Gloria Hunter (Jr., AL), that meant she would be able to share her entry from the Extemporaneous Essay Contest. “I didn’t expect to win. I just expected to go in to the competition and do my best, but I am excited to share with other students what writing means to me,” she said.
After the Commencement Awards Concert, the audience was encouraged to join students and faculty for the art gallery opening across campus in the Visual and Performing Arts building. To Shawn Thayer, chair of the visual arts department, the purpose of the Art Gallery was to “highlight the best student achievements in the visual arts. We wanted to make the display something special.” The art gallery opening also allowed students to connect with viewers and the local community, networking with people viewing their prize-winning works and sharing their inspiration for pieces.
The initial concept for the art gallery opening came from graphic design teacher Greg Hewitt’s graduate students. One of Hewitt’s students involved in the pre-planning stages, Abigail Emtage (’14) said, “This special opening night demonstrates respect and appreciation for the students’ work. It provides a unique opportunity for students to come together to be inspired and motivated by each other’s work.”
At the close of the evening, students left the concert and art gallery opening with a sense of accomplishment. Men’s Voice winner Stephen Spilger (Sr., MO) put it perfectly when he said, “I can’t take any credit for the talent I have, because God gave it to me. Performing in the Commencement Awards Concert let me be able to praise God.”