Student artists shine in inaugural YHS art walk

Yelm community comes out in bunches


Yelm High School’s commons transformed into an art gallery, and its performing arts center (PAC) hosted a student talent showcase during the inaugural art walk on Friday, April 12.

More than 130 pieces of artwork of all varieties, including paintings, drawings, digital designs, ceramics, poetry and more caught the eyes of dozens of attendees. Meanwhile, 11 student performers brought the house down in the PAC with singing, poetry, piano, guitar, bass and color guard performances. 

The first art walk was a resounding success, said YHS Associated Student Body (ASB) advisor Kristin Wolf and art teacher Taylor Gubser, who co-coordinated the event.

“It was even better than I had hoped. I have heard from colleagues and community people that it has been a long time coming and that they were so happy that it was going to be an annual event,” Wolf said.

Gubser added that she was excited that so many people gathered to celebrate the arts and that the school got to recognize student talent.

“I was truly overcome with joy watching families as they took in the pieces on display — discussing pieces they liked, highlighting and celebrating the students who created them, taking the time to make the rounds to see everything,” she said. “I was literally choking back tears as I watched the performance art pieces and heard how loudly the audience cheered for our performers.”

One of Wolf’s goals for the art walk was to highlight student talent that might not have been highlighted otherwise. Sophomore Tyeyo Larson took advantage of the opportunity as he performed Frederic Chopin’s “Etude OP. 25 No. 1” on the piano. Larson, who has played the piano for nine years, was surprised by the response from the crowd.

“I thought I was prepared for the crowd until I got on stage, and then I got nervous. It made me happy that people enjoyed it, and it makes me want to play for them again,” he said. “This opportunity meant a lot to me because I don’t really have many opportunities to play at an actual auditorium.”

Larson said this was the second time he had performed in front of people, the first being at a small church in Olympia. He hopes to get another opportunity like the art walk in the future, and he added that he may consider a longer piece or even an original next time. His sister, Momoka, also performed during the art walk, singing a traditional Japanese song.

Other performances in the PAC included singers Allannah Tyler, Trenton McKinley and Sophia Tate; poets Hannah Green and Evelynn Courneya; music duo Zoey Brown and Christian Epperson; singer/guitarist Samuel Robbins; and color guard performer Brooklynn Simmons.

Teri Melone, Yelm Community Schools Career and Technical Education (CTE) director and communications director, lauded Wolf and Gubser for their spearheading the art walk.

“I’m super proud of Kristin and Taylor for bringing this together. It’s really just dipping our toe in the water, and they wanted to make sure that it was a success,” Melone said. “The really exciting part is how we make this even bigger and involve the community. It’s not just painting or drawing. It’s floral design. It’s diorama. It’s the performing arts.”

The plan, according to Gubser, is to grow the event a little bit each year and to get more community members involved to make it a Yelm-wide event, not just limited to schools.

“If you thought the 2024 art walk was cool, just you wait. They’ll just keep getting better as we learn and grow,” she said.

Gubser was proud to give students the opportunity to participate in both the visual and performing arts in front of a buzzing crowd.

“It felt so good to provide a space and platform for them to not only take a risk and share their art, but for them to watch others interact with it and truly celebrate,” she said. “These kids certainly deserve some time in the spotlight and recognition for the cool things they’re doing. I’m so unbelievably proud of them and their desire to create.”