Franklin High School students unveil first pieces in art collection

After a year’s worth of preparation, Franklin High School art students unveiled the inaugural pieces of the high school’s legacy artwork collection this week in the hallway outside the high school library.

The two art pieces, “Train,” a colored pencil drawing by Amy Ivell, and “New Day,” a photograph on metallic paper by Holly Lynn Gibbons, were selected by the Franklin seniors and purchased using funds raised by the students.

High school art teacher Darrellyn Freeman and five high school art students, juniors Estella Adams, Ella Bodien, Quinlyn Karns, and Charlie Showers and senior Alexandra Nardozzi, gave a presentation Monday to the Franklin School Board detailing the year-long journey of the art department to start the collection.

“This art is a way for us to leave a piece of ourselves behind, a way to be remembered, a way for us to give something to the underclassmen,” Nardozzi said.

Last June, Freeman told the school board she would like to begin a student-collected and student-purchased permanent art collection in Franklin similar to a 200-piece art collection belonging to the Greater Latrobe School District.

Each year, the senior class would select pieces from artworks by regional artists, and the students would purchase the pieces with the assistance of fundraising and community donations. As the collection was added to each year, it would create a kind of “art time capsule” of each graduating class.

“Our goal is to provide an inspiring first-hand experience for our students through art appreciation and preservation while strengthening community bonds,” Freeman said.

Franklin held its first fundraiser for the collection in December, for which students from elementary schools, the middle school and high school created art projects to sell, and community and staff members donated art for sale as well.

The event raised more than $1,000.

In February, “Train” and “New Day” were selected by the senior class from submissions by regional artists and were then purchased by the students.

Karns said that one 2023 graduate said “Train” reminded the graduate of “What our class has gone through with COVID and all…it feels like we were just a train chugging along through everything.”

And Bodien said “New Day,” a photograph of a river valley, had reminded another 2023 graduate “of the beauty of our county.”

Students said they believe the new collection will bring “culture, pride, professionalism and art appreciation” to the community, as well as a sense of pride and ownership to the students, and that it will brighten the environment of the school.

And the seniors feel that it will be a way for them to be remembered.

“We wanted something to stay long after we were gone. More importantly, we wanted something that we as a class decided on,” Nardozzi said.

Showers, a junior, said that for her, “That is just such an amazing feeling, to know that generations beyond us will be able to have this incredible art collection to see.”

The students also said it was encouraging how much the Franklin school district supported the arts and students’ pursuit of the arts.

“We hope that it will continue to grow and have a positive effect on our community, students and staff,” Freeman said.