West Windsor, N.J. – High school students throughout Mercer County were celebrated at Mercer County Community College’s “Aspirations 2013” awards ceremony held on April 23 at Kelsey Theatre.
Published annually by the college, “Aspirations” features the writing, photography and artistic talents of area high school students. A panel of Mercer faculty and staff and area high school teachers reviews hundreds of submissions in order to select the best pieces to include in the journal, which is put out by the college in the spring.
“It has been a pleasure reading and viewing your work,” said Nicole Homer, assistant professor of English at MCCC and the new editor for “Aspirations.” “I saw a lot of students tackling huge issues in their writing,” Homer told the assembled students and family members. She listed gay rights, multi-culturism and gender issues as some of the subjects students chose to write about.
Fifty-one writers and 33 artists, a number with multiple submissions, were selected from 11 area high schools. The book’s cover featured a fractured drawing of a face, drawn by Valerie Suto, a 12th grader at Nottingham High School.
“Mercer is the place for stars and you are all stars,” said Robin Schore, MCCC dean of Liberal Arts. He encouraged students to consider continuing their studies at Mercer, listing the college’s Honors program, award-winning student newspaper and published faculty members as some of the many assets the school has to offer its students.
The evening opened with a presentation by MCCC Theatre and Dance students, under the direction of Program Coordinator Jody Person. Both Person and Maria Laurenti performed interpretive pieces to accompany selected readings. MCCC student musicians also performed jazz selections under the direction of Associate Professor James Kelly, coordinator of the college’s music program.
High school students featured in the “Aspirations” journal attend schools throughout Mercer County, including Allentown High School, Hamilton High School West, Hightstown High School, Hopewell Valley Central High School, Lawrence High School, Nottingham High School, Princeton High School, Steinert High School, The Lawrenceville School, Trenton Catholic Academy, and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North.
“Tonight we want to recognize how you are touching us with your art, your writing and your photography,” Homer said. “There’s something on every page of this book that’s worth examining.”
She thanked parents for encouraging their children to express their artistic talents. “We’re very excited to see what you’ll be bringing to the table again next year.”
Funding is provided in part through grants from the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission and the New Jersey Council on the Arts.
Pictured are Nottingham High School students Lauren Bullock, Alicia Mitchko, Kyra Leszcynski, Bridget Doolittle, Valerie Suto (whose art is featured on the cover), Jessica Fremgen and Luciannys Camacho. Not pictured are Melissa Geerlof, Tricia Parent, Carlin Casimir, Nick DeMarie, Stephanie Retana and Chelsea Toscano.