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Northwestern's fine arts 'powerhouse'

Northwestern High School forensics members perform their self-penned play acting piece, “Stereotypes Caught in an Elevator by Accident,” for teammates Wednesday in the school’s theater. They are, left to right, Kaia Orme, Bailey Evans, Britta Lind and Grace Edwards. The school’s forensics students earned an Excellence in Speech Award, naming them in the top five percent of competing schools, at state competition. Maria Lockwood

Northwestern High School's fine art students are on a winning streak. On the heels of a first-place finish in Wisconsin's Visual Arts Classic competition by a dozen art students, members of the forensics team nabbed an Excellence in Speech award. The honor places Northwestern in the top five percent of Wisconsin schools.

Both were firsts for the Maple school.

"This is a fine art powerhouse," said English teacher and forensics coach Pat Luostari.

She and fellow coach, Michael Goodlet, traveled to state competition with 36 forensics students. They earned 26 gold medals, six silvers and four bronzes.That percentage of bling earned them a top spot. Only 18 of the 343 schools competing earned the Excellence in Speech award.

"It's always rewarding and you know Pat's mantra is 'If you had fun and learned a little bit, you're a winner', but this year's been just beyond that," Goodlet said.

One of the solo acting pieces was a double feat. Seniors Bailey Evans, Britta Lind, Grace Edwards and Kaia Orme wrote their own script to perform, "Stereotypes caught in an Elevator by Accident."

"They really did a good job," Loustari said of the creative process. "They'd sit in a group and they talk, and then they'd say a few lines and then they'd stop and scratch two out ... it was fun to listen to them."

Students with musical talent are also shining this spring. During state solo/ensemble competition, 22 Northwestern students earned gold, five took home silver and four students were nominated for exemplary soloist awards. One — Kelby Werner — walked away with exemplary awards for both tenor solo and music theater male solo.

"We've got a strong nucleus of fine art students this year," Luostari said.

"And it's a lot of the same people in everything," said Goodlet, the school's choir director.

Many are graduating seniors, they said, which creates a lot of opportunity for underclassmen.

Community members are invited to celebrate Northwestern High School's fine arts successes during a trio of events.

The choir will perform a Disney-themed pops concert at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the school's Patricia Luostari Theatre for the Performing Arts.

"We're playing some old stuff and some new stuff, you know we're doing 'Beauty and the Beast,' which just came out and 'Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah' from way back," Goodlet said.

The selections have prompted some cross-generational learning. Students have sought out old Disney movies to hear the songs in context, and they inspired Goodlet to watch the new version of 'Beauty and the Beast.'

"They have so much fun; if you're watching they're having a good time," Luostari said of the choir members. "The music is good and the spirit is good."

On May 19, a student art show and auction will be held in the school library from 6-7:30 p.m. Eighty percent of proceeds go directly to the young artists, with 20 percent earmarked for Art Club scholarships. The auction will be followed by the Northwestern High School band's pops concert at 7:30 p.m. in the school theater. During intermission, pieces that didn't sell at the auction will be available for purchase.