WHS students create fascinating headpieces for Ohio's Rose of Tralee

The first-place Duck Tape fascinator by Westlake High sophomore Autumn Custer. Photo by Denny Wendell

Approximately 20 Westlake High School students in Beth Noren’s honors American history course participated in an extra credit project to create a “fascinator,” a classy millinery hat, for the 2014 Ohio Rose of Tralee. Denise McConville, originally from Tralee, Ireland, and currently a Westlake resident, whose father was instrumental in the establishment of the first Rose of Tralee competition, initiated the fascinator competition. In addition, Ms. McConville contacted ShurTech Brands who enthusiastically contributed the main material for the project – rolls and rolls of Duck Tape.

Duck Tape then became a major requirement in the design of the fascinator. In addition to that Ohio product, the first-place winner, sophomore Autumn Custer, incorporated 17 jewels to represent Ohio as the 17th state to join the Union. The scarlet carnation (Ohio’s state flower), the ladybug (our state insect), and the color red from the state bird (the cardinal) were other major elements from Autumn’s research on Ohio that added to the relevance of the winning design, which will accompany Ohio’s Rose of Tralee, Grainne Mangan of West Park, to Portlaoise, Ireland, for the Rose of Tralee regional competition.

Westlake Schools International Baccalaureate Coordinator, Colleen Mudore, facilitated the project among all involved. A jury for the competition was composed of Denise McConville, Westlake World Partners board member; Amanda Pasenow of ShurTech Brands; Linda Shubeck, International Rose of Tralee 1971; and myself, a retired art educator and past President of Westlake-Westshore Arts Council. Originality, uniqueness, creativity, craftsmanship, functionality and relevance to the state of Ohio were among the criteria for judging.

Autumn Custer received a $50 Amazon gift card from ShurTech Brands and Westlake-Westshore Arts Council recognized Autumn’s creativity and excellent craftsmanship with a $75 award. Second-place winners Emily Simon and Amanda Davies shared a $25 Shurtech Brands Amazon card and a $25 W-WAC award. A Newbridge Silver Small Tower Clock was presented to Autumn by Westlake World Partners, a non-profit formed to support Westlake's sister cities program.

Making the jury process a memorable classroom experience was the presence of Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough, City Council President Michael Killeen, Council member Lynda Appel, and Brett Luengo from WWP.  All emphasized the importance and relevance of exchange between Westlake and Tralee in today’s global environment. So far, student art and teacher exchanges have occurred. Mayor Clough said he looks forward to and encourages future collaborations that may also include an exchange of students.

The mayor and council president also warmly invited students to attend city council meetings to observe city management with opportunity to make their voices heard.

Marge Widmar

Westlake Resident; member Westlake-Westshore Arts Council; Retired Bay Village School District Art Educator

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Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 10:06 AM, 05.13.2014