NORMAN — Students of Norman Public Schools were not sleeping in this Saturday. Up and ready to go at 8 a.m., Longfellow Middle School was buzzing with excitement as students grades 4th-8th prepared to dance, write, draw and much more at the 12th Annual Get the Lead Out, GLO, festival.
This year’s festival featured a long list of workshops for students to attend including: acting, bookmaking, cartooning, dance choreography, debate, drumming, graphic arts, iCreate, Illustrator, journalism writing, mask making, mixed media, oriental brush stroke art, origami, painting with ink, play writing, poetry, pottery, jewelry making, recycled art, song writing, sports writing, video production, watercolors and weaving. The festival also awarded medals and cash prizes of $25, $15 and $10 in two divisions 4th-5th and 6th-8th in three categories prose, poetry and art. And Monty Harper, who writes and performs award-winning children’s songs, was the event’s keynote speaker.
Mandy Woodford, who was the gifted resource coordinator when Get the Lead Out started, said the event was conceptualized by a group of parents who wanted artistic students to be recognized for their talents. Darleen Bailey Beard, a children’s author, was one of those parents to work on the first festival.
“I spoke at a school in Yukon and they had a similar event, and I thought, ‘We’re a great school system. We should have something like this in Norman’,” Bailey Beard said. “We wanted GLO to be a way to honor the kids who have talent in the arts and writing. A lot of time they are quieter and get overlooked. The athletes are the ones who usually get trophies. We wanted writers, artists to be proud of themselves too.”
Every year Get the Lead Out has about 40 speakers and tries to offer new and different classes. The festival began with a strong focus on writing, but over the years has evolved to include more art classes, but the volunteers would like to shift to a 50/50 representation of both writing and the arts, Bailey Beard said.
Delaney Yoder, a 5th grader from Eisenhower Elementary, said her favorite classes of the day were dance choreography and Project Bling.
“It’s my second year here. I had a lot of fun, so I came back,” Yoder said.
Terri Street, Longfellow Middle School librarian, who taught the workshop Project Bling said kids not only had the opportunity to be creative but they learned about patterns and developed fine motor skills while crafting jewelry.
“We’ve even had several boys participate. One told me he was going to give his necklace to his mother as a Valentine’s gift,” Street said.
Bailey Beard said she really hoped that the festival could continue to grow to include grades 9th-12th and offer scholarships.
“We really need funding from a major corporation so that we can continue to grow,” she said. “The festival is unique in that it is open to kids from the entire state. Kids really do come in bus loads because not all small schools can offer what we do...And there is nothing better than seeing the kids walk across the stage so proud of their work.”
Get the Lead Out was made possible in part by grants from the Norman Public Schools Fine Arts Library and Gifted and Talent programs as well as contributions made from Bailey Beard, Longfellow Gifted and Talented funds, local businesses and benefactors.
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