Top Student Artists Receive Honors at 2019 JM Awards Night

SILER CITY — Six artists received music, theater and visual arts awards on May 23 at JM Awards Night, an annual presentation highlighting top students across all disciplines at Jordan-Matthews High School.

Corrine Collison, a senior, received the 2019 Outstanding Graduate in Theater Award. A three-time JMArts Scholar and winner of the James Award as the top cast contributor to the musical last fall, she capped off her JM theater career with an unforgettable performance as Ursula in “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” and received a superior rating at Musical Performance Adjudication assessments this spring. Corrine will attend East Carolina University this fall to study music education.

Jocelyn Lopez Mejia, a freshman, received the 2019 Underclassman Student Artist of the Year Award. A student in the AVID college preparation curriculum, her intuitive use of advanced techniques and willingness to experiment artistically are evidence of her natural talent. Jocelyn will return to JM this fall.

Oliver Mitchum, a senior, received the 2019 Outstanding Jazz Award. A four-year band veteran, his outstanding musicianship is evident not only with his saxophone, but piano as well; he performed his own arrangements for the processional and recessional at this year’s JM Baccalaureate service. Oliver will attend North Carolina State University this fall. 

Aaron Partin, a senior, received the 2019 Outstanding Musician Award for instrumentalists. A JMArts Scholar, his four-year leadership and dedication in the marching, concert and jazz bands have prepared him well for a future as a school band director. Aaron will continue that preparation this fall as a music education major at Greensboro College.

Joseph Richardson, a senior, received the 2019 Student Artist of the Year Award. His portfolio is ready to fill a gallery for a solo show, and his identity studies have received compliments from viewers on social media in the United States, Australia and Dubai. Joseph plans to continue his studies at Central Carolina Community College and transfer to the UNC School of the Arts to pursue a major in visual arts.

Samatha Zarate, a senior, received the 2019 Outstanding Graduate in Vocal Music Award. A two-time JMArts Scholar, her stellar vocal performances in three musicals, soulful solos at concerts and events, and superior rating at Musical Performance Adjudication assessments are highlights in her record of excellence. Samantha, who received a Best Actress nomination in the 2018 Triangle Rising Stars musical theater competition for her performance as Nina in “In the Heights,” will study music next fall at Guilford Technical Community College.

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Top JM artists in music, theater and visual arts received honors in May at 2019 JM Awards Night.

Top JM artists in music, theater and visual arts received honors in May at 2019 JM Awards Night.

Designer Heath Smith named to JMArts Board of Directors

SILER CITY — Designer and teacher Heath Smith has been named to the JMArts Board of Directors, the first former Jordan-Matthews High School arts student to help lead the nonprofit educational foundation.

Smith works as a designer at Hollyfield Design, a floral and furniture specialist in Southern Pines, and is Adjunct Instructor for Interior Design at Randolph Community College. He also operates his own small business, H.F. Smith Interior and Floral Design, and recently published a children’s book titled “Mr. Gilmore’s Glasses."

While at JM, Smith studied visual art and music, also appearing in musicals as Mr. Lundie in “Brigadoon” and Daddy Warbucks in “Annie.” His performance in “Annie” earned him a spot on the Durham Performing Arts Center stage as a finalist in the 2014 Triangle Rising Stars musical theater competition. 

The JMArts board includes President Rose Pate, Vice President Matthew Fry, Secretary Rahma Mateen-Mason, Treasurer Denise Partin, Angie Brady-Andrew, Greg Burriss, Justin Harper and Smith.

JMArts, the Jordan-Matthews Arts Foundation, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization that raises money and provides expertise to help students excel.

Major projects include JMArts Scholars for returning students to study over the summer at university-sponsored residential workshops, the New York Arts Adventure for students to experience world-class arts and interact with renowned professionals in the city, and assistance to produce the school musical each fall.

Assistance also is provided to help produce student concerts and art shows, provide arts-related activities in the school and offer other events for the community.

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Heath Smith appeared at Jordan-Matthews High School recently as pianist for Jennifer Trejo Benitez in her performance of “Beyond My Wildest Dreams” at the annual Music in May concert.

Heath Smith appeared at Jordan-Matthews High School recently as pianist for Jennifer Trejo Benitez in her performance of “Beyond My Wildest Dreams” at the annual Music in May concert.

Almost 80 student artists exhibit at 2019 JM Spring Art Show

SILER CITY, N.C. — Work from almost 80 Jordan-Matthews High School artists went on display last week to celebrate the inaugural Siler City Spring Chicken Festival and close the spring art season.

The JM Spring Art Show held its formal opening and reception on Monday, May 6, but began welcoming guests a few days earlier — on Saturday morning at Peppercorn in downtown Siler City. The show continues through Thursday, May 9.

Rahma Mateen-Mason, the art teacher at Jordan-Matthews, said this year’s show was inspired by the chicken festival. Students produced chickens in all forms — from the egg to the adult to cartoon characters — though artists also were invited to enter any work they wanted to show.

The annual art show helps students use entrepreneurial skills developed in class — one of them was designing and making T-shirts — so those who want to pursue art as a career can make a living after graduation. But its core is helping students take lessons they learn from the classroom into the world at large.

“I want my students to not only be able to think critically, but creatively,” said Mateen-Mason just before the show opened. “Employers look for people who can come up with new ideas and also implement those ideas.”

This is the first year the annual art show has been held at Peppercorn, a coffee shop and event space across from the NC Arts Incubator in Siler City. When she was gathering work for the exhibition, Mateen-Mason wasn’t quite sure if she’d have enough to fill the large room behind the coffee shop.

As is turns out, that was not a problem — and neither was the diversity of media. “When I finished hanging the last piece, I looked around and thought how proud I was of the students to see all of the different techniques,” she explained. “We had art made out of old magazines from the ‘40s to ‘70s, oil paintings, acrylic painting, ceramics, collage and even decorated furniture. I was impressed.”

With so many people downtown for the chicken festival and others coming through Peppercorn the following week, a lot of people will see the work by students ranging from novice artists in Art 1 to accomplished veterans preparing to graduate. Mateen-Mason hopes some of the visitors will leave the show inspired by their experience.

“I want them to go home and just pick up a piece of paper and doodle,” she said. “There are even some people out there who are talented artists and had to choose a different path in life. I want them to never lose that creative side they once loved.”

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Untitled work by Tiana Brooks

Untitled work by Tiana Brooks

“Rich Homie Quan” by David Herrera

“Rich Homie Quan” by David Herrera

Untitled work by Blanca Herrera

Untitled work by Blanca Herrera

Student work exhibited as part of the 2019 JM Spring Art Show at Peppercorn in downtown Siler City.

Student work exhibited as part of the 2019 JM Spring Art Show at Peppercorn in downtown Siler City.