AYER -- The Ayer Shirley Regional High School main entrance was well lit but not blazing with light, lending an atmosphere that was inviting, intriguing and eventful as parents, students, staff members and others turned out in significant numbers for the K-12 District Arts Night, radiating a vibe that landed somewhere between a gallery exhibit and a small-scale expo.
Folks lingered in groups or cruised around on their own, perusing colorful and imaginative student art exhibits displayed along the hallways and in the lobby, some on professional-looking, stand-up boards purchased with funds from the Ayer Shirley Education Foundation.
Highlights of the evening included energetic, entertaining student performances.
While getting one's bearings and consulting the program map/building layout, guests mixed and mingled; some munched on cookies set out in the cafeteria while perusing samples of student art work from all four district schools, moving on to classroom presentations (pottery wheel, plate-rubbing and community weaving demonstrations, video slideshow, video TV production) or to enjoy scheduled musical performances at various venues throughout the building. Or any combination of those choices, including all of them.
Selections included an eye-catching layout by Brandon Soto, who has been accepted, according to the text mounted with his display, at several prestigious schools, including Syracuse University, Penn State and the Mass College of Art and Design.
The performance playbook -- or "musical scores" as listed in the program -- included something for everyone and then some. Musical numbers ranged from classical selections to jazz standards to the familiar, mellow musings of Henri Mancini.
One of many standouts, the High School Jazz Band, directed by Tim Ketterer, caught a visitor's attention with a rousing rendition of "Mercy Mercy" with a sax solo by Olivia Oestreicher, Daren Quinty on Trumpet and Garreth Austin on drums.
The complete lineup included the 5th Grade Band (Page Hilltop and Lura A. White Elementary Schools) the High School Jazz Band, 6th Grade Band, the LAW Chorus, the 7th/8th Grade Band, the Page Hilltop Chorus, the High School Band, the Middle School Chorus, the Combined K-12 Chorus.
Capping the evening, vignettes from two student stage productions: The Middle School Musical, "Mary Poppins, Jr." and a sneak preview of the High School Drama Club's latest musical, "Little Shop of Horrors," to be staged May 10-12.