SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Wednesday evening, the Donald B. Plamer Museum at the Springfield Free Public Library morphed into an art gallery, as the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs hosted the opening reception for the annual teen arts touring exhibit.

The event had a local feel, as several students in the school district were on hand to have their artwork shown. High School students Romy Eckert and Aiden Forys were present, along with Sammy Miller and Russell Werner Jr. from Gaudineer.

Along with the students, one of the district's educators was present as well. Jonathan Dayton High School AP Studio Art/Art History instructor, Barbara Delikaris was there to support the students and was happy to be at the opening reception.

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“I love coming to the Union County Teen Arts reception each year," Delikaris said. "Kathy Kakaletris and Pam Matamoros do such a great job exhibiting student work. The Arts are well represented and supported at Dayton. I’m always amazed each year to see what students decide to explore in their own creative work."

Delikaris added, "Both Romy Eckert’s and Aiden Forys’ work will tour with the Union County Teen Arts Traveling Exhibition for the next year.  Aiden is the photo student of Mr. Steve DiGangi. Dayton Visual Art Senior, Romy Eckert’s painting, “Jean” will be critiqued at the State Teen Arts on May 29.”

For Office Administrator Kakaletris, who said the program has been going on for several decades, holding this art showcase every year is key for her department.

It's very important for us," Kakaletris said. "Just the creativity and comradery with the students [is incredible]. You see how many teachers are here too. It's just so nice to see the teachers come out for them too."

She also acknowledged the support of the freeholders as well.

"We're very lucky that our freeholder board feels that the arts are so important," Kakaletris said. "Studies have been done on the importance of art, and they see that."

And Matamoros, who heads the teen arts program, Springfield marks the perfect spot to hold the opening exhibition.

"We have been hosting at Springfield Library for many years," she said. "This is a wonderful venue. It's located right in the center of the county, and we get a great turnout, we really do. It's middle school, high school, parochial, private and public."

"We place great value in the arts, and community involvement," Matamoros added. "So to have students from all over the county be aware and be involved in the Teen Arts Fest...is an incredible opportunity."