WAYNE, NJ - The Wayne Hills High School (WHHS) photography students recently hosted their second Annual Photo Gallery. The event was open to the public in the Commons, with a truly spectacular display of photography. 

The WHHS jazz band kept the evening lively with upbeat music, while parents, families, friends and the community viewed over two-hundred images taken by WHHS photography students. 

“The jazz improvisation class playing at the Photo Gallery was a great opportunity to meld two art forms and two school classes together,” said Matt Paterno, Band Director at Wayne Hills. “The intense colors and contrast in the photography matched the colorful harmonies of jazz!” 

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Assistant Principal Kristy Stofey, who oversees the Photography Department, said: “The quality of our Photo program is something that I am particularly proud of at Wayne Hills High School. Our Photography educators consistently set a high bar for their students and provide countless opportunities to showcase student work.” 

Stofey went on to say “Ms. Stomel and Mr. Dederding work with staff and the larger community to make sure that students have meaningful real-world experience in the field of photography. The Photo Gallery event is great because it allows the community to see the professional quality of our program and the amazing photography of our students.”

Last year, WHHS senior Isabelle ‘Gingy’ Wilders had a vision. She along with several peers set out to create a gallery at Hills transforming the commons into a professional space. The third year photography class, which focuses on real world projects and career readiness skills, were happy to jump on board to help execute this massive undertaking. 

“For several years we had been exhibiting our work in the community, but not at Hills,” said Stomel. “The students wanted to shine a light on the program inside their own building.” 

For this second Annual Photo Gallery, all the students in Photo 3 worked tirelessly. It was an all hands on deck type of event that took months of prep work.  Each student in Photo 3 had a section of the gallery to curate: choosing, cropping, editing and matting each piece.

In addition to managing their own sections, Photo students Dia Ciccone a Junior, Emily Lewis, a Junior and Luna Osman a Senior spent countless hours afterschool and on weekends organizing all photos, prepping the commons and laying the groundwork to ensure everyone was able to do their job smoothly.  

This year the gallery exhibited 247 pieces of work, from all levels of photography classes including student spotlight sections hanging on the walls. In total over 134 prints were ‘adopted.’ 

“We actually had to print extra copies to meet special requests.” said Stomel.

The proceeds of the photography sales went to the WHHS Photo Club where it will be used to further the program with specialized equipment or unique experiences.  Last year the gallery helped fund the fourth year class to the Color Factory in New York to have a photography shoot on site. This year they are hoping to put the money towards a professional photo-printer.  

“The photo gallery is one of the most incredible projects I have ever worked on," said Osman. "The process of building the event from scratch taught us very important lessons that we will need in any career we choose."

Ciccone spoke of her experience in class: “The photo program alone has made my high school experience so much better. Without being in photo and as committed as I am to it, my life would be so much different and much less eventful. Ms Stomel has taught me so much about photography and life in general and I couldn't ask for a better teacher or classmates."

When discussing the Gallery with Lewis, she agreed with her fellow photographers and praised the event: “Being able to share not only my work but helping my peers also share theirs felt great. The photo program is like a family and makes me very happy to say that I am a part of. I can not wait for the future and future projects.”

At the third Annual Photo Gallery the photo club plans on giving the community a chance to “adopt” a photo and celebrate the talented students of WHHS.