High school hosts eighth annual Da Vinci Fest


Photo by Madison Engstrum

Students browse the art at the eighth annual Da Vinci Fest.

Maddie Engstrum

Stillwater Area High School hosted the eighth annual Da Vinci Fest on January 11, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  The Da Vinci fest is a  St. Croix Valley community event promoting student art, science and film projects.  This free event is sponsored by The Partnership Plan (TPP) and is open to the public.

Da Vinci Fest is open to students in grades 4 – 12 who live within the boundaries of the Stillwater Area Public School district, regardless of which school they attend. In the spirit of Leonardo Da Vinci, it celebrates student achievement in the arts and sciences, and is the only one in the state to do so on such a large scale. Last year, hundreds of students participated and thousands attended. Organizers expect similar numbers this year.

“It is breathtaking and heartwarming to see the remarkable talent of the students in the St. Croix Valley.”

— Beverly Petrie

“It is breathtaking and heartwarming to see the remarkable talent of the students in the St. Croix Valley,” said Beverly Petrie, Interim Executive Director of TPP.

Many years ago, TPP sponsored Art to Heart, an elementary school art event in which student art was framed and sold to the public. But the event began to falter for many different reasons. The leaders of TPP began to think of ways to rejuvenate the event. They wanted to create a new event that showcased the remarkable achievements of local students in art and science.

They chose the name Da Vinci Fest in the legacy of Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the foremost artists and scientists of his day. It began in Stillwater Junior High School, and was held there for several years before quickly outgrowing the space. It now takes up most of the main floor common rooms and hallways of SAHS, and draws about 2 thousand people each year.

This year there are 140 science students, 180 art students and 12 film fest students.

Many people are behind the scenes working on the production of the Da Vinci Fest.  “We started thinking in the spring how to make it better, and the really serious planning started mid-fall,” said Petrie.

On the day of the Da Vinci Fest, students can barely recognize their own school.  The main hallway of the school is completely filled with colorful poster boards and interactive science experiments.  In addition to the entire main hallway, the gym, the cafeteria, the forum room, the Black Box and the art rooms are all decorated for the event.

“I volunteer because it is gratifying to feel as though you’ve played a small role in boosting the education of tomorrow’s leaders.  At least that what it feels like to volunteer for The Partnership Plan,” said Petrie, who has been working with TPP for six years.

The Da Vinci Fest is a wonderful way for students to showcase their talent and also inspire others.