#1StudentNWI: HAPApalooza displayed HAPA students with free festival

#1StudentNWI: HAPApalooza displayed HAPA students with free festival

What's recently happened?

On Saturday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Wolf Lake Memorial Park hosted a music and arts festival in appreciation for the Hammond Academy of Performing Arts (HAPA). 

HAPApalooza is a music and arts festival featuring HAPA students and teachers performing at Wolf Lake. During HAPApalooza, there are other enjoyments such as the concession stand, face painting, art activities, and chalk provided to draw on the sidewalks. The dance department provided the entertainment while the theater department provided acting throughout the evening. 

Since the festival was a district-wide event, there were multiple directors who played their roles.  Alexander Akers from Hammond Central High School (HC) and Keegan Whitney from Morton High School (MHS) are the directors of HAPApalooza. For the Pavillion, Jill Gajewski was in charge, while the newly retired Scott Sowinski was in charge of the coordination of the event such as insurance and renting the Wolf Lake venue.

An award ceremony was also hosted for HAPA and non-HAPA students around the middle of the concert. 

Akers, who’s usually the teacher for rock band and guitar class, had to juggle directing HAPApalooza as well as preparing his own classes for the festival. His guitar classes performed “Hey Jude” originally by the Beatles with vocals backed up by David Boban’s advanced choir students. 

Fortunately, the planning for HAPApalooza went smoothly, and all the organizers had to deal with were the meticulous details, such as renting the porta-potties, obtaining a HAPA Cafe license, moving large items to the location, securing security, and making sure sound was working well.

“All performing arts and art itself bring life, positivity, vibrance, motivation, and pride to the community. I hope that it will bring the community together to celebrate the artistic achievements of our students while celebrating the existence of HAPA and all of the opportunities it brings our Hammond students. The world needs art; it allows us to forget about the stresses of life and enjoy the present,” Akers said. 

What's coming up?

HC’s senior graduation takes place on June 13 at 6 p.m. at the football field of the Hammond Central Sports Complex. 

Six tickets will be allowed per graduate for guests unless there is unforecasted rain, then it will be two tickets since they will need to switch settings to the main gym. Guests will sit on the east side of the bleachers where it’ll be first come, first serve. 

During the graduation ceremony, there will be guest speakers that will pass down their wisdom and story to the graduates such as the Valedictorian Ada Austin and Salutatorian Randhal Moran.  

Graduates will take the traditional route of walking across the set-up stage and receiving their diploma, now being considered true graduates of 2023. 

Before the ceremony takes place, graduates will have an award ceremony on Tuesday, June 6 at 9 a.m. in HC’s main gym. The ceremony is meant to appreciate the academic accomplishments seniors have made in the classroom.  

According to one of the senior sponsors, Jessica Castillo, who is organizing the graduation along with HC’s administration, preparation of the ceremony wasn’t as difficult as the unpredictableness of the weather. 

“The hope is that it doesn't rain and that the graduation ceremony can take place outside so as many family members as possible can come and witness their graduate walk across the stage,” Castillo said. 

Staff spotlight:

Sara Sjoquist is an art teacher at HC who teaches Intro to 2D Art, Intro to 3D Art, and Advanced 3D, as well as Ceramics I and II. Sjoquist participated in HAPApalooza by offering attendees complimentary face paintings.  

Sjoquist began teaching art at night to adults and found that people get a stress release and joy during the process of art, something that would be very valuable to teenagers trying to explore and identify who they are. She happened to start working at HC due to it being a close job opening.  

“It's meditative for me just for the expression of it all and the opportunity to be creative. I also like that art offers you so many chances to learn new skills and grow,” Sjoquist said.

Participating in the HAPApalooza event, she had experienced difficulties gathering student volunteers for the festival. Since HAPApalooza took place on Saturday, most students were not available to attend, resulting in mainly visual arts teachers taking over the booth for the majority of the festival. 

When preparing for HAPApalooza, Sjoquist’s top priority was to ensure the students were well represented and involved in the festival despite not being able to showcase their work due to the fact the festival was outside and they did not want to risk their hard work being stolen or damaged. 

Sjoquist hopes the next year of HAPApalooza displays students' work digitally instead of in-person so as to eliminate the risks she worries about. Next year the HAPApalooza organizers optimistically wish for a large screen backdrop that will display students previously completed art pieces. 

Sjoquist hopes to showcase student’s talents so they can gain exposure and gain confidence for their presentation. 

Outside of teaching art, Sjoquist enjoys other meditative activities such as bike riding, reading, being outdoors, traveling and working out. 

“Try all types of mediums, don't box yourself into one type of medium; branching out gives you experience and cultivates your work. Don't be afraid to mess up, keep improving,” Sjoquist said.  

Student spotlight: 

HC Sophomore and participant in HAPApalooza Victor Marquez also enjoys the positivity the arts give him, especially choir and musical theater. 

Marquez has also been in the plays “Matilda,” “Clue!,” “Spongebob,” and participates in his choir. 

In HAPApalooza, Marquez planned to sing an original song, but unfortunately due to being short on time, Marquez’s act was cut short. 

When writing a song, Marquez gets lots of seemingly random ideas to incorporate into his piece. 

“My inspiration roots from research on a lot of different aesthetics, and I’m a big fan of Halloween and the whole creepy stuff. I love just dark things, so that's like an aesthetic I’m looking into as a good source of inspiration,” Marquez said.  

When it comes to making the melodies for his songs, Marquez hears several melody ideas in his head and tries to incorporate them into his melody while making sure it doesn’t sound chaotic. He also doesn't believe in key signatures; he calls himself a “hater.” 

Marquez believes he has a gifted ear when it comes to music so, when making songs and melodies, it just comes naturally to him.  

Marquez hopes to impact people through his words and actions, insinuating humor when he does musical theater, while in choir, he has other plans. 

“I would just hope to have great humor and have people laugh. In musical theater, I like to improvise some lines sometimes and my intention is to have people get a good couple of laughs and make sure people have a very good experience. With the choir, I just want to sound good,” Marquez said. 

During school, the highlight of his day is when he is able to talk with his friends. 

Outside of school, Marquez enjoys writing, drawing, and conversing with friends. 

“I like creative writing in my stories; I’m a big fan of fiction. I enjoy cartoon drawings like the Tim Burton style of art where it’s kind of creepy but very beautiful in a sense; that's the type of art style I like a lot,” Marquez said.

Marquez also has some words of inspiration for aspiring vocalists

“If you really do like singing, just have fun with it. That's something I prioritize when I do a musical or play or even when I’m in choir. I prioritize having fun and enjoyment the most, as well as taking it seriously,” Marquez said.