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Art at Servite On the Rise

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Kristin Berardino spearheads Servite's Visual Arts program.

Kristin Berardino spearheads Servite's Visual Arts program.

Connor Price

Connor Price

Kristin Berardino spearheads Servite's Visual Arts program.

Connor Price, Staff Writer

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This story was originally composed in May 2017 as the writer’s final project of the academic year.   

As the last days of school dwindle, we turn our attention to the accomplishments of our Friars who excelled throughout the school year. Whether academic or athletic, every hardworking individual is given the recognition he deserves as we prepare for the next school term. Sunday, May 21, marked the Second Annual Marian Art Show, a truly amazing program put on in the Tri-School Theater recognizing the extremely talented artists of Servite, Rosary, and Connelly High Schools.

Displaying some of our Friars’ top tier work on paper and canvas, the art show represents not only the culmination of hours of work both in and out of school. Rather, the art show attests to several years of tireless dedication by both teacher and students alike. It has become a symbol for the Servite art program’s development into an unstoppable force.

At the center of the show was an ambitious teacher whose sights are firmly set on expanding the art program and harnessing its fullest potential. On record, she is Ms. Berardino. However, her students recognize her by the loving title of “Ms. B”. Exuding the liveliness and energy of a young teacher combined with an avid, passionate drive, Berardino has became one of the most beloved teachers at Servite in the brief span of three years.

Across her four art classes – drawing, painting, studio art, and graphic design – she promotes her students’ varying styles and helps them to become their own individual artist. The close bond and care for her students has earned her the affectionate nickname of “Mama Bear” to many. “She was always helping me out with everything I needed and she for sure brought back my passion for art,” said Jacob Pauley ‘16, who calls Ms. B his favorite teacher at Servite. “I am always in debt to her.”

This year marks several of Berardino’s first-year students’ graduation from both high school and her own classroom. Berardino was unsure what to expect when she first arrived at an all-boys’ institution. “I taught boys and girls before and I’ve just known that the girls to be little bit neater and have better craftsmanship. So, I was expecting really good classroom management and I was also expecting craftsmanship to need to improve, Berardino said. “Walking in, I saw that the actual projects were really good. I was not expecting that, walking in. When I cleaned out the classroom, I saw that they had really good potential.”

Looking back, we can safely assume Berardino’s arrival at Servite came at the perfect time. The past three years have seen momentous growth in the program thanks to the dedication of Berardino and the cooperation of administration. Class sizes have nearly doubled from each previous year with several first year art students occupying her drawing classes. “For my first year, I think I had fifty to sixty [in drawing class], now I have a hundred,” said Berardino

Additionally, painting and studio art have seen plenty of returning students wanting to diversify their art portfolio. Of her second and third year students, she said, “You’ve got more kids coming back for another art class, or they’re asking, ‘What art class can I take next?’”

The addition of a new course, graphic design, beginning with her second year marked a large step for the program. Berardino recalls the integration of the class as a priority for her. Deemed the most difficult of her classes by both teacher and students, Berardino said, “It’s a difficult medium to learn because it’s what they learn in college and what they use in the real world.” Nonetheless, graphic design is one of the most popular visual arts courses offered.

Class sizes aside, the program has benefitted immensely from the Berardino’s style of teaching. On the very first day of school, students are tasked with drawing out objects in front of them with no help at all. They then are introduced to techniques to enhance their craft such as blocking in and light line strokes. Within only a few short days, students can see a great improvement from their first sketches.

Drawing, especially, marks a year for growth and development of students’ own unique styles. “I have seen craftsmanship grow in their writing, in their quarter term papers, and then also in their projects,” said Berardino. “I set a standard and they meet that standard.” Over the year, students perfect their art across a variety of different mediums. “We do a lot more different mediums…They’ll do scratchboard, charcoal, graphite. We’re not focusing on one medium. They get a more expended education because they do get to learn so many different mediums.”

As students progress through the upper level art classes, the focus shifts less on the mechanics of art. “They understand the general of everything now like using color, using line. Yes, you go back over that as you go on, but it’s more of a focus now on what can you do. I’m more of a critic now than a teacher.”

Students are expected to complete several projects per quarter over a variety of mediums. Studio art is cut out for those students intent on furthering their art career beyond high school. Scott Lee, ‘17, for instance, was among Berardino’s first students his sophomore year. Now admitted to art school, Lee has spent the last three years perfecting his portfolio and craft.

By the fourth quarter, Berardino begins preparing for the art show. Knowing what was expected from last year’s show, this year’s art show went by very smoothly. Preparation was done ahead of time so set up could be better prepared. This year, the show had the pleasure of additionally displaying the works of sister school Connelly and several local elementary and middle schools along with Rosary Academy. For the elementary and middle schools, ribbons were awarded to the top three projects, done by students ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade. The celebration of these young students’ achievements has proven vital as more elementary schools have dropped their art programs.

Promoted heavily by social media, this year’s show had an impressive turnout and meant a huge success for the art program. Several parents and faculty witnessed the tremendous work completed by Berardino and her students. Projects were strung everywhere, utilizing every space inside the theater. Like last year, participants were able to vote for the best art projects and certificates for the top three were incorporated.

During her near three year tenure as art teacher, Berardino has accomplished a great deal and expanded the art program exponentially. From starting the art show to completing the yearbook two years in a row, her dedication to her craft is incomparable. “She is the best teacher there. She has so much positive energy and interacts so well with everyone,” said Pauley. “The art program is a huge program at Servite now and in my opinion it’s because of her.”

Looking forward, Berardino welcomes many more art shows in the future. Additionally, she would love to eventually incorporate AP Studio Art into her curriculum as more students seek higher levels of art class. Her accomplishments notwithstanding, however, Berardino’s legacy truly lives in the students themselves. “Having a parent walk in and actually saying, ‘Oh my gosh, my son talks about your class while we’re eating dinner or he shows off his stuff’, that’s what gets me,” said Berardino. “Actually knowing that the kids are taking something from it – that’s what makes this job worthwhile.”

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