When Jessica LaMere came to Pinnacle Charter School nine years ago, a high school art program was nonexistent. But now, the program she created is thriving and expanding, allowing students to flourish in their artistic abilities.
“Our program is now expanding, which is amazing,” she said. “We have a second art teacher who is part time, but will be full time next year so that’s really awesome. It’s really nice to have two teachers because we can offer more to the kids.”
Four Pinnacle High School students’ talents were recently honored in the Scholastic Art Contest, which provides students across the nation the opportunity to showcase their artwork and earn college scholarships. Senior Karina Yapor and junior Lizzeth Guiterezz were both Gold Key winners and seniors Antonio Saavedra and Tiffany Garcia were both Silver Key winners. Yapor’s piece called “She’s an Angel,” which is a portrait of her German Shepard, earned her a $20,000 college scholarship. The news left her speechless.
“I was shocked when I found out I had won, I didn’t really know what it meant,” Yapor said. “I was excited to just win something. I was jumping around and almost fell down my stairs.”
Creating art is an escape for both Yapor and Guiterezz. They use the opportunity to draw or paint as their outlet into another world, one all their own. Guiterezz said she’s not sure of her plans after high school, but does know art will always be in her life.
For Yapor, she’s hoping to be an art teacher or illustrator, or both.
“I am going to Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design for sure,” she said. “I really want to be an art teacher because Ms. LaMere really inspires me and a lot of people say that when I help them, I make it a lot easier for them.”
LaMere couldn’t be more proud of her students. She says the best part of her job is working with students who have a passion for art and are driven to turn that passion into a career. She works with students to build their portfolios and helps them create a plan of attack after high school.
“I really get a lot of fulfillment out of helping the students who want to go to art school because that’s what I did,” she said. “Actually getting the kids hooked on art school and to believe in art as a career choice, is probably one of the best parts of my job.”
The pieces done by the Pinnacle students will be on display at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Lakewood until Feb. 26 in the Philip J. Steele Gallery and the Rotunda Pavilion. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
In early May Pinnacle High School will host their own art show in the halls on the first floor of the school. For more information, contact LaMere at email@example.com.