Art, music, wit and wonder

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:00

High Point students sing, strum, recite and interact in an inspirational setting at a teen open mic, By Keri Rand Wantage — Discover. Create. Inspire. Those words greeted students as they entered the Wantage Library on the evening of Friday, Feb. 13. The library was the literary hot spot for a Teen Open Mic Night hosted by High Point High School. There, teens were free to share original poetry, play music, sing — to express themselves through art and performance. Tables were laid with white paper, suitable for creating artwork and poetry. Stickers, magnetic words, crayons, colored pencils and Valentine hearts were all offered so teens could let their creativity flow. Students gathered in groups, making poetry out of magnetic words, exchanging Valentines and doodling artwork on the table coverings. The atmosphere was supportive, inviting and inspiring. Alex Sajak, one of the student coordinators, was MC for the night. She kicked off the event by playing guitar and singing “In an Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel, accompanied on guitar by Mike McBride, another High Point student. Later Alex treated the audience to a performance of one of her original poems, entitled “A Song,” which was a big hit. While she read, the audience was mesmerized by her words and sat silently until she finished when they were able to applaud their appreciation. When it was her turn on stage, Deena Spaner brought up a bag of instruments and randomly chose from it, playing whatever she pulled out — shakers, a clapper, a pipe-like flute. Deena surprised the audience with her performance and her witty, improvised descriptions. The audience erupted in applause and supportive laughter at the end of her stint, and a slight disappointment floated in the air when her bag was emptied. A few High Point alumni showed up, too, to read poetry and play music. Students also participated in an open mic night favorite — the drum circle. Everyone was given a percussion instrument and together created a one-of-a-kind rhythm. This is a unique experience because it allows the students to interact with one another, even those who don’t know each other. They become connected by the music that they make and the arts that they love. “I have never had anyone perform here who didn’t feel comfortable,” said Heather Strout, who teaches English and creative writing at High Point High School. She began the open mic nights in 2004 with the support of Jayne McHugh, president of Wantage Friends of the Library. “We try to have three a year,” Strout said “One in the fall, one in the winter and one in April for National Poetry Month.” High Point also hosts a coffeehouse at the school library in June for the release of “Calliope,” the literary magazine.