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Herb N' Arts Fair GLHS Community Arts

The Herb N’ Arts Fair, started by high school art teacher Sharon Iseringhausen and her Community Arts class, is quickly becoming a Gahanna staple. The fair, held every May at the VFW Park, features activities like music and art creation stations, stage performances, physical activities led by the high school athletic department, food trucks and more for community members to enjoy.

Iseringhausen had wanted to get students involved in art projects throughout the community ever since she taught elementary school art. The idea for the arts fair came when Iseringhausen’s high school Community Art class wanted to do a hands-on project instead of a final exam. Fast forward four years later and the idea has blossomed into a highly anticipated community tradition.

“I had wanted to do some sort of interdisciplinary community fair for years,” said Iseringhausen. “When the students decided they wanted to create a fair that combined art, music and dance, I knew it would be a fantastic way to combine everything they’d learned throughout the year. The students do everything from the community outreach and fundraising to planning and execution. They get a lot of experience that sets them up for life after high school.”

Community Art students spend the entire year planning, advertising and executing the arts fair while doing smaller community art projects, such as creating signage for small businesses and painting murals throughout Gahanna. The event planning process ramps up in January when students begin to work out the details including food trucks, the fair layout, activities and performers. They also begin advertising through fliers in schools and local businesses.

This year, sophomore Joanne Thornburg had the idea to collaborate with the school’s Fab Lab to set all school laptop backgrounds to information about the event.

Beginning in March, the students figured out what materials they needed for the craft stations, how much they would cost and where the items could be purchased. This year’s craft stations ranged from weaving friendship bracelets and flower crowns to painting flowerpots and rocks. As always, the event also featured music and dance performances from students of all ages. The performances included the Lincoln Elementary Choir, a preview of the high school’s musical, Pinnell Dance Centre, the Color Guard and Drum Major, Lords of Literature and many other student performances.

Even with this year’s rainy weather, many of the students who took the class are signed up to take it again next year. With the exception of the Herb N’ Arts Fair, the projects are ever-changing, since they are based on whatever the students can dream of creating. Students also elect to take the course more than once to be able to share their insight with new students and learn to take more ownership of the project. The Community Arts students also gain a lot of experience they can apply to the real world.

“My biggest takeaway from the class was learning to communicate with people in the business world,” said Anna Linnabany, junior. “I gained the social skills to interact with people older and more powerful than me. I feel confident now that I could go into a business and get an application to work there without feeling nervous about talking to business owners.”

Jay Gibson, junior, also discovered valuable skills he can use moving forward.

“I learned a lot about patience and working as a team,” said Gibson. “Not everyone wanted to do what I wanted to do and not everything went the way we had planned, but I learned how to collect myself, look at the problem and try to work with everyone to find a solution.”

The students planning to take the class for a second or third time are excited about the skills they will be able to expand upon and the opportunity to mentor first-time students. Their minds are already racing with new and creative ways to support the Gahanna community through art.

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