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Students’ Art Project “Vision of Optimism” To Be Celebrated at Willimantic Juvenile Court This Friday

The Connecticut Judicial Branch and Eastern Connecticut State University on Friday, Feb. 2, 2007, will cProgram Cover - using some of the student artelebrate “Vision of Optimism,” a project that drew on the many talents of students in eastern Connecticut to create art for the children and youths who go to the Juvenile Court in Willimantic.

The event will start at 2 p.m. in the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters, 81 Columbia Ave., Willimantic, where artwork by students from Eastern and public schools in Windham is on display in the lobby and courtrooms.

The program will include a welcome from Windham Judicial District Administrative Judge Antonio C. Robaina. Other speakers include Eastern President Elsa Nuñez and Dr. Anne Dawson, professor of art at Eastern. Closing remarks will be made by Superior Court Judge Francis J. Foley III, who came up with the idea for the art project.

“At Juvenile Court, we have kids who are scared, perhaps neglected and abused, and who are desperately in need of encouragement and a belief in a better future,” Judge Foley said. “The artwork is intended to send a message of hope, strength and courage.”

Students from Eastern’s Design Group developed banners for the courthouse lobby and named the project “Vision of Optimism.” The Design Group is a project for seniors in Eastern’s Digital Art & Design program, in which students connect to and contribute to the local community through their creative skills.

“When I presented this project to the Design Group, I was thrilled by my students’ immediate enthusiasm for Judge Foley’s innovative idea of using visual imagery to transform the juvenile courthouse lobby into an environment of hope and optimism,” June Bisantz, professor of visual arts at Eastern, said.

She added: “The students’ compassion for their young audience was evident from the very beginning. They worked singly and collaboratively to identify themes and images that would reach the young people passing through the juvenile court system. This was a project in which art, design and emotional connection all came together to produce lasting visual statements of comfort and inspiration.”

In addition, students from Windham Center Elementary School, North Windham Elementary School, Natchaug Elementary School and Windham Middle School did 30 pieces of artwork.

“It is always amazing to observe the creative spirit and abilities of our young people when they are presented with an important task,” Windham Superintendent of Schools Paul K. Perzanoski said. “What greater message of hope to children than a message of encouragement from their own peers! Windham Public Schools’ students and staff should be commended for their participation, their talent and their community involvement.”

For further information, please contact Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, manager of communications, Connecticut Judicial Branch, at 860-757-2270.

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