WINDHAM – The Windham-Raymond District Art Show, now in its 12th year, drew a record crowd to its opening night gala at the Windham High School earlier this week.

To kick off the weeklong show, more than 600 people attended Monday’s event, which featured performances by the Windham Chamber Singers and third-grade chorus.

According to the show’s organizer and art teacher, Angelika Blanchard, more than 2,600 pieces – the most ever – were on display. Colorful paintings and drawings created by nearly all the students – kindergartners through seniors – plastered the walls in the main lobby, in the halls all around the auditorium, with sculpted works and more paintings shown at the rear of the auditorium.

“We are the biggest art show in the state, showing in one building,” Blanchard said.

Blanchard also said each class in all Windham and Raymond schools was planning to visit the show during the week. But Monday’s event was geared toward parents and community members to share and show off the fruits of the district’s art program.

“The art show presents the opportunity to educate the community on the importance of having fine art programs in our schools,” Blanchard said. “They can come and see the progression of learning from kindergarten on up to high school. It clearly shows how the arts connect in many ways to all curriculums and studies. When art and music come together in one place, it is incredible. It becomes a great community cultural event.”

With science and math results easily indicated by standardized test results, Blanchard also sees the annual exhibit as an indicator of what students are achieving during art class.

“Testing can be done in academic classes and the data can be clearly shown, but an art show is our way to prove that we meet the standards and clearly highlights students’ learning. It is art and music’s performance indicator. Not to mention how proud the students are of their work displayed for the public to see,” she said.

A rapt, inquisitive audience gathers in front of seniors Sarah Skvorak and Patrick Rice to learn about making pottery. during opening night of the Windham-Raymond District Art Show. (Photos by Rich Obrey)