The profits from our book, The Story of Kennett- Shaping the Future One Child at a Time goes to the Kennett Education Foundation. It funds an award to Kennett High School’s graduating senior that best represents the culture of Kennett for making things better through volunteerism. This year it went to Molly Honer who took a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) engineering course and found herself the only woman in the class.
She understood how profoundly important technology was as a skill set for her generation and that STEM needed to be co-ed, so she started a Society of Women Engineers Club. This substantially expanded the number of women from Kennett High School that are going into engineering. It is critical that we graduate students that are literate in math and science.
But the really great schools go to the next level and they include Art in their focus of skill development. It is STEAM (STEM + Art)
Kennett is playing in the quarterfinals 5A football playoffs this year and just won the quarter finals against Strath Haven, a well-resourced main-line high school outside Philadelphia. I thought Kennett had a great music program with 80 kids in the band, and the music from Bach’s, “Jesu,Joy of Man’s Desiring” etched on the outside wall of the school. Then Strath Haven came to town, a school smaller than Kennett by about 150 kids, and they brought a band with 400 kids. With the football team and the band, almost half the school actively participates in an autumn football game. I don’t think of sports as one of the arts but my mother came to our basketball games because watching Coach Kendig’s players, Ralph D’Antonio and Ross Tamblingson in my class play basketball was the closest thing Kennett had to the ballet.
I am fortunate that as an engineer, with very little artistic ability, I have always enjoyed the art around me. Of my four siblings, one has his own theatre company, Touchstone Theatre in Bethlehem, Pa; one is a singer/songwriter, and one taught photography at the International Center of Photography in New York City. Then I married Jane, a soprano, who ran an art gallery in Bremerton Washington while I was in Vietnam.
Today our music room has over 60 orchids, mostly from Longwood, and she has a side business caning chairs. There are down sides to being a nerd in an artist’s home, as it seems I’m inspected every time I go out to make sure my attire is appropriate and color coordinated. Even our kids get into the act, as our daughter Susan was editor of Kennett High’s award-winning yearbook and she manages post-production for movies at Warner Bros. in Burbank, CA.
My high school class (KHS ’64) had a few members that made a living through their art. Ed Stodard was taught to play the trombone by Kennett’s band director Mr. Canfield. It is a tough life living off the fruits of an instrument, teaching classes and going on tour. But the rewards of being an artist are substantial. His recommendation is to try and become a teacher.
Bonnie Arden Robb wrote “Félicité de Genlis: Motherhood in the Margins”-- a wonderful monograph about a French writer and observer of the French Revolution. Three of the visual artists from the class were Bill Ewing, an excellent portrait painter who has a powerful portrait of Ken Webb, Kennett’s Vice-Principal, in the high school library; Jeffi Payson O’Kane, who went to Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and makes beautiful stained-glass art works in Arkansas and then there is Sara Hannum Meadows, also of Moore College, with three grown sons who went to Unionville. She does wonderful clay sculptures when she is not helping to run Kennett Township.
Unionville is the high school up the road that 50 years ago was more of a country school, about half Kennett’s size. One of our class members transferred there in high school and after our 50th reunion, there was a comparison of notes on the two reunions.
I think we were bragging about the artists that came to our reunion and she said; “We had an artist come back for our union too.” And we said who was that, and she said; “Jamie Wyeth”. Now, not every kid can have Andrew Wyeth home school them after 8th grade, but all of our artists seem pretty comfortable in their path through life.
We need to keep the arts alive in the lives of our children. It would be wonderful if half of the students at Kennett played a musical instrument, or our budding engineers knew how to draw before leaving for college. Let’s make sure we don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater as we balance our school budgets in the future by cutting music, arts and theater. It all adds up to the importance of educating the whole person to achieve a future quality of life.
The Story of Kennett may be purchased on Amazon and at the Mushroom Cap or Resale Book Shoppe in Kennett. You can contact Bob at Georgert@gmail.com
The Family George Award, created by Sara Meadows, for the most creative and innovative Senior. This year it went to Maya Das who is at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. She led Social Media for the Robotics team.