After a year of successes, experimentation and new ventures, Hesperia High School's art students are getting ready to show the entire community what they can do.
"These kids are amazing," art department head Jennifer Campbell said, gesturing to several students working in a corner of her classroom. "I mean, they're here after school."
Campbell isn't alone in thinking they're amazing.
Hesperia High art students competed in the Young Artists' Gallery in Fullerton on Feb. 23. The event pulls artists from all over San Bernardino County, Campbell said.
"Just having one artist there is an honor," she said. Hesperia High had eight, three of whom won gold medals.
Students did even better in the Teen Art Festival at the Apple Valley Library on March 31.
"We really had a goal to do really well this year," said Jessica Van Overbeke, who teaches photography at the school.
The program is building on a strong foundation: Hesperia High's Advanced Placement Art students averaged a four out of five on their AP exam last school year. The grade is based on 24 pieces of art students created over the course of the school year, which are then submitted to the evaluation board.
Part of that effort is getting art out of the classroom and in front of the rest of school community. Teacher Isaim Buenrostro and students are in the process of building a metal scorpion statue, five feet tall and seven feet wide, that will serve as a piece of public art when it's finished later this year.
"Me and Jennifer earlier in the year started bouncing around how to get art out there onto campus," Buenrostro said. "It's my first time wielding, but (I'll do) whatever is required."
"Finally, we get our mascot sculpture," Campbell said.
"From the get-go, everyone (at the school) was on board," Buenrostro said.
"I'm teaching them all about the different methods of firing" pottery, Monica Edwards said, including a bonfire. "It was definitely experimental. ... We do the regular firing all year long, but we want to show them other methods."
"Every year, I feel we just keep growing and trying something new," Campbell said.
And as the year comes to a close, the art students will have a chance to show what they've learned. Thousands of student works will be on display at the school's annual art show May 3, filling every shelf in the school's library.
"I just matted 40 (works) today, and I feel like I didn't make a dent," Campbell said.
But don't confuse the quantity for a lack of quality: Only the best works by students are eligible to enter the show. At the show, judges will award ribbons to the best of the best.
"It's like a carrot that I dangle in front of them," Campbell said.
Hesperia High School's annual art show will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 3 in the school library, 9898 Maple Ave. Admission is free. For more information, call (760) 244-9898 ext. 3980.