SPARTA, NJ – The media center at Sparta High School was packed on Tuesday night for the first induction ceremony of the National Art Honor Society.  The inaugural class had 38 students, including 16 seniors. 

“I am very proud to say that the first induction of the students into the National Art Honor Society was a success,” Principal Janet Ferraro said. “The display of student art work, guest speaker Marshall Okin, along with the opening of the artists in residency was a nice touch to the evening.”

The group was welcomed by art teacher Christine O’Brien-Mase, who together with Kristin Lindsley are the advisors for the honor society. 

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Hope Nafis, President of the Chapter also addressed the students, family and faculty. 

Guest speaker, Marshall Okin of Art Etc in Sparta said, “Most importantly the support these students are getting from the school and their teachers is going to set the ground work for the students.”  

Okin said there is a lot of opportunity for art students to have a career and make a lot of money.  It is a myth that there is not work in the field, encouraging parents to support students who wish to go to art school after high school.

Okin also made to offers to the students.  All of the students inducted into the honor society can display their art in his Art Etc gallery at the Theater Center in Sparta.  He also offered internships to the seniors through his Art Etc studio on Wall Street in New York City.

The students received their certificates of induction, the seniors were also given carnations.  Prior to the closing remarks given by Nicole Scalera, the seniors were asked to hand their flowers to someone in the room who has influenced their art career. 

To qualify for the National Art Honor Society, Mase said the students are required to maintain a 3.0 grade point average in their art classes, volunteer six hours of service in the arts and participate in 80 percent of the fundraising. They also have to "be of good character with no discipline issues," Mase said. 

Mase said the students will be fulfilling some of the service hour requirements by creating a mural in the high school and painting a scene on the lockers at Mohawk Avenue School.

A fundraiser they are planning is to “upcycle (repaint) furniture to be sold at the Art Gala” scheduled for late May, according to Mase.

Prior to the ceremony student docents gave tours of the recently created art installations around the building.  The installations were created by art students during a two week “artist in residence” program in collaboration with Spirit Tree from Homdel. 

Superintendent Michael Rossi made the connection because he had worked with them in another school district, according to vice principal Steven Schels. 

“I think it was a wonderful opportunity for students to work as a team in creating public art for all of us to view,” Schels said.  “They really seemed to enjoy it.”

Schels said the cost would likely prohibit the program to be repeated. 

The installations included works done in the style of Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, Sandy Skoglund and Edvard Munch.  The large scale pubic displays will only be up for a short time, though they will be able to “leave at least one installation up forever on campus to be a legacy,” Schels said

“I'd like to thank Mrs. Mase and the art department for inspiring and supporting all of our young artist,” Ferraro said.

The students inducted in the first class:

Seniors: Gianluca Bivona, Zabrina Branning, Brittany Goldberg, Nolan Kafafian, Julia Liland, Katherine McGurkin, Victoria Montesano, Hope Nafis, Paul Newton, Robert Pegollo, Ryan Ryerson, Nicole Scalera, Carly Seeland, Sophie Semenza, Parker Sokol and Olivia VanBurskirk.

Underclassmen: Mikayla Bivona, Emma Bova, Brian Cabrera, Alexander Cohen, Marie Cruiz, Emily Dilger, Isabella Horowitz, Natalie Krudys, Sophia Masterson, Sophia Oelkers, Bailey Plotts, Caitlin Scarpa, Alexandra Schuessler, Madison Schwing, Kasey Senatore, Cailee Trapanese, Madison Trent, Sydney Van Brunt, Kathleen Whilesmith, Sarah Wille, Mabel Windle, Ande Wittenmeier.