West Side Dance

Hosted by County College of Morris

Every corner of County College of Morris (CCM) was bursting with creativity and imagination when over 1,500 students from sixteen schools throughout Morris County descended onto the Randolph campus to celebrate the 38th annual Morris County Teen Arts Festival on Friday, May 18. CCM has been the host since the festival’s inception.

Clayton Allen, director of the Morris County Teen Arts Festival and associate professor of Visual Arts at CCM who has been working the event for ten years was thrilled about the turnout and day, saying “It was great energy! The feedback I received was that this year was better than ever from the workshop leaders and the students. In fact, Mount Olive Middle School alone brought 200 students to the festival and that is a high level of participation which is really good.”

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Participating schools included: Briarcliff Middle School, Butler High School, Chatham High School, Dover High School, Frelinghuysen Middle School, Jefferson Township High School, Lakeland Youth Symphony, Long Valley Middle School, Morris Catholic High School, Morris County School of Technology, Morristown High School, Mount Olive High School, Mount Olive Middle School, Next Step Dance Company, Roxbury High School, Unity Charter School and West Side Dance Academy.

Students and a staff of 40 professional artists participate in performances, critiquing seminars, and workshops in every discipline from art, dance, design, drama, graphic design, music, music recording, musical theater, photography, video and writing. Throughout the day students also actively participated in 28 workshops, including the visual arts drop in activities.

Among the activities was a crowd favorite sidewalk chalk drawing that adorned the entire main walkway of CCM’s campus. One artist even drew the CCM’s mascot, Titus the Titan. A 16-foot white drawing wall was a backdrop for the budding artists to express creativity with a rainbow of sharpies to choose from. There was even a Teen Arts Coffee House Tent, complete with Dunkin Donut coffee where student musicians participated in an “open mic” setting to a packed lounge at the CCM Student Community Center. Some of the best creativity came from impromptu rehearsals where teens from area schools picked up their instruments and many passersby began dancing. The campus was alive and the comradery between students was invigorating. Next to the Cohen Café, a drum circle workshop brought a plethora of students who were engaged in the exhilarating musical form.

“This was my 13th Teen Arts Festival in a row, and it was the best! The students who come to my drum circle are always enthusiastic, talented and polite, but today was absolutely amazing,” remarked Rich Reiter, who held a workshop on the Spiritual Drum Circle. “I had an overflow crowd and they were not just rambunctious; they listened to me, they paid attention, and they really drummed a unifying exuberant rhythm. The highlight was when at least 40 students paraded around and around me in a circle, dancing and drumming like they were in New Orleans!”

The Morris County Teen Arts Festival occurs right after CCM completes its Spring Semester and before Commencement which occurs on May 25 at the Mennen Arena.

“We are so pleased that you [the Morris County students] are participating in this special event designed to recognize and support creative abilities,” wrote CCM President Anthony J. Iacono in a letter addressed to the student artists and teachers. Iacono also mentioned the college offerings, stating “At CCM, you will find a faculty that includes nationally recognized artists, photographers, musicians and writers and a wide range of academic programs for those with a passion for developing their creativity. We offer programs in the fine arts, drama, filmmaking, acting, music, design and more.”

Image one: Mount Olive Choir, Photo Credit: John Hester

Image two: West Side Dance 10 from Randolph, Photo Credit: Allison Ognibene

Image Three: Dover High School Jazz Band, Photo Credit: John Hester

Image Four: Ariel Shot of Sidewalk Chalk Art, Photo Credit Joe Schilp

Image Five: Wall Art, Photo Credit: Allison Ognibene

Image six: Mount Olive HS Orchestra