Weather Forecast


Students earn top marks at state Fine Arts Festival

Pictured, from left to right, are the five students from Northwoods Assembly who recently participated in the Minnesota District Fine Arts Festival: Brenna Graham, Alysa Ralston, Shelby Burns, Jennifer Gunn and Callista Wengel. Submitted photo

Students from the Northwoods Assembly of God Church in Perham attended and performed at the Minnesota District Fine Arts Festival at North Central University in Minneapolis on May 10.

Three of the five participating students qualified to go on to the national festival, which is coming up this summer in Ohio.

The festival is a tool of National Youth Ministries of the Assemblies of God, designed to help students discover, develop and deploy their ministry gifts.

Beginning in September each year, more than 65,000 students prepare for the district and national Fine Arts Festivals. Students may enter as many as 66 categories offered in eight main divisions: art, communication, dance, drama, exhibition, instrumental, vocal and writing. Student skills are evaluated by judges who encourage excellence and offer ideas for improvement.

The Perham church had five students attending the district festival, with three advancing to the national level.

Middle school students Alysa Ralston, Shelby Burns and Jennifer Gunn all entered the category of vocal solo female, jr., each performing a song of her choosing. Ralston qualified for the national level, with Burns and Gunn each receiving superior ratings.

Callista Wengel entered the category of dramatized quoting, in which a student introduces and then recites from memory a passage of scripture in a dramatic way. Wengel qualified for the national festival. She also partnered with Brenna Graham to enter the group category of children’s lesson. A group has 5 minutes to present a complete Bible lesson, with an intended audience of 5-10 year olds. The duo also qualified for nationals.

“I am so overwhelmingly proud of all of the girls,” said coach Heather Fones in a press release. “All of them did an amazing job! Even the two girls who didn’t qualify for nationals scored a 34 and a 35, so they were right there at that cutoff.”

“However,” she added, “the main thing isn’t so much how they score, but that they have an opportunity to improve and grow in their gifts, and I’ve definitely seen them do that. Even more exciting is the way they encourage and feed off each other in the process, and the bonds that have been created because of that.”

This is the second year Northwoods Assembly has had students participate at the district level, and the first year any have advanced to the national level.