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Annual “Yellow Jacket Christmas” CD ready to sell

Winning students receive gift cards from Assistant Principal Lamar Matthews, art teacher Jocelyn Rivard, and Principal Trista Jones.

Youth artists at Thomas County Central High School had an opportunity to help bedeck the system’s annual Christmas CD with their unique holiday creations. Students participated in the “A Yellow Jacket Christmas” CD Cover Art Contest.

“A Yellow Jacket Christmas” CD is a project that gives Thomas County Schools’ talent the chance to shine and helps support the school’s annual Shop with a Yellow Jacket, or SWAYJ event. The initiative brings older students together with younger pupils whose families could use a little help to ensure their Christmas is merry and bright.

Contest winners were announced Nov. 7. Freshman Kendall Lee received first place, junior Starla Fortier won second, and senior Darius James earned third. Lee’s piece is the front cover, Fortier’s design is on the CD, and James’ art graces the back cover.

“I was really surprised that I won first place,” Kendall Lee said. “It made me very happy to know that many people enjoyed my drawing.”

Lee entered the contest “to put my creative and artistic skills to the test.” Her cover art, first drawn in pencil and then traced in sharpie and colored in using color pencils, features school mascot Buzz dressed as Rudolph beside a Christmas tree with presents underneath.

“I thought the drawing should be light-hearted and funny,” Lee said. “I really liked how I made Buzz dress as Rudolph.”

Starla Fortier initially entered the contest “for fun” and let her mind “go free” during the process. Her piece, done in colored pencils, features Buzz “sporting a ‘Santa’ hat” and jacket decorated with mistletoe and the TC symbol. In his hands is a present and behind him is a row of musical notes.

“It feels good to know I placed second in the contest,” Fortier said. “It was pretty cool and fun to draw and color.”

Darius James’ third place art features Buzz dressed in a Santa suit carrying a bag of toys and bells. Though the design was created in October, James let his joy of Christmas shine through and used bright colors.

“I reminded myself about my funny past Christmas moments,” he said. “I actually feel happy and grateful that my design was chosen in this competition.”

The contest was open to painting/drawing art students, as well as the entire student body. Guidelines were to create a five-inch artwork with Buzz in a holiday or winter setting and include the year, 2016.

“As a class assignment, students had to demonstrate their knowledge of light to dark shading in colored pencil, good composition, technical skill, and an imaginative solution,” TCCHS art teacher Jocelyn Rivard said. 

Rivard, who helped coordinate the contest, said her students researched and drew Buzz in various positions, which helped them learn a bit about anatomy and initiated discussions about potential settings and outfits.

She adds the project helped generate school spirit, with faculty voting on the top seven for placement. Entries selected were “artworks with excellent drawing, composition and color,” Rivard said.

The CD is now complete. TCCHS Broadcasting/Audio Production teacher Randy Young, whose department recorded and engineered the CD, said work began the first week of school.

“Lamar Matthews, our assistant principal, was the catalyst behind organizing who was going to perform,” he explained. “We then put together a production schedule to go to Garrison-Pilcher and the middle school to record their groups, and then did the same with our bands at the high school. The vocalists from the high school were recorded in our audio studio in the broadcasting department.”

Tracks include classics like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” to more current selections such as “I Want to be an Elf” and “Winter Song.” Musical groups from Garrison-Pilcher Elementary School, Thomas County Middle School, and TCCHS, as well as individual students from TCCHS and the Renaissance Center contributed to the project.

“The first word that comes to mind for me is diverse,” Young said of this year’s tracks. “There are all kinds of music on the CD, including big band, rap, show tunes, and even a very Celtic-themed piece. I think listeners will find the mix very refreshing.”

TCCHS junior Matthew Edmonds worked with fellow students Zion Jackson and Ariana Warren to create and perform an original piece, the ‘80s-styled “Christmas Time in Thomasville.” He said working to be on the CD was “an awesome experience” and made him feel like “an actual artist recording my hit single.”

“It made me feel so happy, and I think that is what Christmas is all about: having fun and enjoying friends and family,” Edmonds said. “Arie and Zion are my close friends and making music with them really brought the Christmas spirit. It was a fun experience, and I would love to do it again.”

TCCHS Assistant Principal Lamar Matthews feels “absolutely great” about the finished CD. He thanks all the musicians, vocalists, engineers, artists, and coordinators involved for their hard work.

“It is obvious that a lot of hours and hard work went into this project to get this kind of quality,” Matthews said. “Many kudos go out to all who were involved. They all did a fantastic job.”

The CD goes on sale Friday at The Jackets Nest as region champs TCCHS Yellow Jackets take on Riverdale in the first playoff game of the GHSA 5A finals. Copies also will be on sale at Garrison-Pilcher, TCMS, and TCCHS, beginning Monday, Nov. 14.

The cost is $10 per CD and accepted payments are cash or check. If writing a check, please make it payable to TCCHS and denote on the document that the money is for the Christmas CD. All proceeds from CD sales will be used to fund SWAYJ teams.

“Not only are you getting a great holiday CD, you're also supporting the efforts of the young people in our school system to be able to make the holiday season a little brighter for some little folks who need a little help,” Young said. “It's a win-win-win all the way around.”

Organizers say now is the time to get a copy for yourself and everyone on your Christmas list.

“I would encourage everyone to buy this CD because one, it is for a great cause; two, it’s a great gift for Christmas; and, three, it showcases some very young, talented musicians and vocalists,” Matthews said.





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