I recently had the distinct pleasure to attend the open house given by Peoria’s District 150 High School for the Performing Arts. District 150 Fine Arts Coordinator Sharon Reed and a very dedicated staff have gently nurtured this new magnet school, located within Peoria High.

I slipped into the back of the auditorium among parents and other students as the program began. As in most recital-type performances, the range of arts performed was broad. Students had prepared song-and-dance routines, instrumental solos, as well as ensemble pieces. Some students gave recitations in groups, and some bravely stood alone on the stage and performed spoken word pieces.

Some students had obvious talent for their art; others had to work harder at it. But beyond all the effort, one thing stood out to me: the incredible camaraderie these students had with one another. Hardly a performance went by that didn’t rate a standing ovation from their fellow student artists. Some suffered stage fright that affected their performance, but that was absolutely overlooked by their peers. They were valued for their effort as well as their art.

A group of students that had auditioned and been accepted from all over the District 150 schools has bonded into not only a talented, but caring group of young adults. They now know a strong self-image can help them achieve other great things. They appear to be off to a good start.

The recent Peoria Next Discovery Forum helped raise our awareness of the positives of intertwining artistic effort and technological effort. Both sides of the brain working in harmony can and will make great strides toward goals.

In our complex world, it’s important to stop and take the time to recognize that young people often need mentoring to reach beyond the more available distractions of their everyday world. Congratulations to District 150 for devoting the resources to do this mentoring. AA!