Reinventing creativity

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hajra munir

Photography teacher Elizabeth Knodle teaches Serentiy Billups ‘24 the basics of photography to start the year off. Knodle is excited to watch her students develop their very first roll of film in the weeks to come.

The WHHS fine arts program is on the brink of a creative comeback after a year of virtual performances and shows. Teachers, directors and students are excited to finally return to a sense of normalcy. 

Helen Raymond-Goers, or as her students know her, RG, is a long time theater and costume design teacher here at WHHS. She is beyond thrilled to return to her natural rhythm and is “excited to be back doing theater the way theater’s meant to be done.”

Due to the gap of foundational information that the pandemic caused for students, RG has made it a priority to teach her kids the basic principles of stagecraft and theater.

“It makes me a little nervous that we have to make up for lost time. But it is making a huge difference that the students are excited to catch up and they are all passionate about learning,” RG said. 

Even though some students are new to the theater program, the  staff and students of the program are excited to have their first in-person performance of the year with a live audience .

This year, the theater program is performing a Rhinoceros, a play written by Eugène Ionesco. “Most high schools wouldn’t tackle this work. It’s an absurdist piece of drama and very weird,” RG said.

Although the theater program has returned, there are still restrictions that have to be enforced due to COVID-19, such as a mask mandate for audience and performers.

 However, due to the content of the play, the students are able to align these protocols with costumes, such as prop masks.

“Because we are still in a world where we have to be masked and socially distanced, we have the advantage of doing an absurdist piece,” RG said. “We are doing this piece with these hyper characterized masks because we all have to do the mask anyway. So we decided to build that into the production.” 

The theater program has a multitude of invigorating shows coming up in the Fall and the entire fine arts department is more than ready to showcase their potential. 

Liz Lloyd, an art teacher at WHHS and a valuable member of the fine arts department, is also extremely thankful to teach her kids a subject that requires verbal communication and feedback. 

SENIOR Rowan Heckerman begins his sculpting project using clay. Liz Lloyd gave each of her students about two pounds of fresh clay to manipulate into creations of their own. (kylie bridgeman)

Teaching subjects that are representations of creative freedom, can be difficult to teach through a screen. However, Lloyd is grateful that she can once again teach students to express themselves in visionary ways. 

“I am excited to be able to return to a creative environment where students can have free choice but also have me help them,” Lloyd said. 

Due to students having already made a lot of progress towards their artistic journey, they are prepared for a plethora of upcoming events to display their hard work, including a Fall art show.

“I am excited to be able to showcase the students’ work in person so they can take ownership for their work,” Lloyd said. 

Alongside these teachers returning to the program, we also have teachers being welcomed for the first time.

Elizabeth Knodle, WHHS’s newest photography teacher and WHHS alumna, is taking on the legacy of retired teacher Donald Stocker. She is excited to start her teaching career at WHHS.

“I went to Walnut and took AP photography as a student and it’s exciting to be back teaching it now,” Knodle said. 

As Knodle is making her debut as a teacher at WHHS, she has already set goals to achieve a successful year. 

“I want to push students creatively and I also want photography to specifically give them that tactile experience, especially after everything being online and digital for so long,” Knodle said. “I want them to take photos and have the experience of bringing those to life.” 

To express her enthusiasm of being the newest staff member in the creative arts department, Knodle shared some upcoming projects that she’s delighted to see unfold. 

“We are currently working on pinhole photography and students will be using their cameras to shoot their first roll of film and that will be exciting to see what their results are,” Knodle said. 

Being a photography teacher is truly a hands-on job. Being in person is beneficial because it allows kids to have that tangible experience of working in the darkroom and using the cameras.”

— Elizabeth Knodle

Knodle is thankful to be welcomed to WHHS during a year where face-to-face interaction is allowed so that she can watch her students experience the complete photography process. 

“Being a photography teacher is truly a hands-on job. Being in person is beneficial because it allows kids to have that tangible experience of working in the darkroom and using the cameras,” Knodle said. 

The entirety of the fine arts program, both teachers and students, are excited to be in-person to experience and express a new form of creativity that was not possible last year. 

Photography, art, theatre and other branches of the fine arts program are all excited for their own upcoming events and hope that the rest of the student body and staff will be just as enthusiastic for their return to innovation that the fine arts programs brings to the school.