The annual city-wide Arts Festival of the Gloucester Public Schools is under way to spotlight student talent, which managed to thrive even during a pandemic.

Since 2008, the Sawyer Free Library, in collaboration with the Gloucester Education Foundation, has hosted this festival, which was canceled last year like all other in-person events.

But with some reimagining, the festival has returned in a smaller way, now through June 5.

Currently, the library's Matz Gallery displays the artwork,  including works of sculpture and photography, of Gloucester High School seniors and honors art students.

Starting on June 2, the community will be able to view a video compilation produced by the Gloucester Education Foundation featuring artwork by students, from kindergarten through high school.

The video, produced by local filmmaker Stephen Brock, will be shown during regular hours at the library, and will be available to view on foundation's website,  thinkthebest.org.

"The arts festival is such a fun community event. This year, we felt it was especially important to highlight, in any way possible, the work these talented students and the teachers who inspire them have created. We can’t wait to showcase their work at the library and in our video, and really look forward to an in-person event next year," said Aria McElhenny, executive director of the Gloucester Education Foundation.

All involved recognize the artistic legacy of Gloucester and seek to continue to nourish and cultivate the talents of the next generation of students in the local schools.

Sawyer Free Library Director Jenny Benedict noted that despite the challenges faced by students and teachers, the art programs of the Gloucester schools have continued to foster student creativity and collaboration.

"It is our great pleasure to share the wonderful artwork of our community's resilient young people for all to see on the library’s big screen on the first floor as well as in the children’s room," said Benedict.

Lorrinda Cerrutti, a Gloucester High art teacher, has seen firsthand how the students rose to the new demands brought on by the pandemic.

"I think that when most people think of teenagers, they don’t really understand how resilient they can be. Many of my students have been dealing with extremely challenging home circumstances over the past year. Yet they kept getting up, and they kept moving forward and creating,” said Cerrutti. "They realized this year about how essential art is to mental health. They continually tell me how they feel the most relaxed and stress free when they are in my class doing art."

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