In-person fine art activity plan

Ali Cutter and Lila Portis

With COVID-19 vaccinations being rapidly administered, cases are declining and in-person activities are on the rise. The ETHS fine arts department has taken precautions to ensure the ultimate safety of students and staff if they choose to partake in this year’s first batch of in-person experiences inside the building.


The usual musical activities offered by the school, such as band, orchestra and choir, required more in-depth planning to safely administer to students. In late February, the department welcomed students back to rehearsals, with the orchestra taking the lead as the first group back. Almost 50 percent of all music department students signed up for the in-person practices.

“They’re learning the same stuff [as online]; they just get it in a more robust and authentic way by being in-person, indoors,” band director Matthew Bufis says.

Because orchestral instruments do not require mouth contact, students resumed rehearsals masked. ETHS has accommodated protocols for wind players and choir students after learning about a recent study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland regarding how particles move through the air.

“The recommendation from that study is that you’re only supposed to play in a room from anywhere between 30 and 35 minutes maximum,” Bufis says. “Then, everyone is supposed to clear the space and let the air turn over three cycles.”

ETHS has implemented this recommendation by rotating students from one room to the next within the department every 30 minutes in hour-long sessions in order to let the space clear. Wind players also wear special masks with slits and instrument covers to further prevent droplets from spreading.

“[On] Feb. 26, the pep band played at a basketball game. [In the future], the pep band will play at a football game, jazz will reboot this spring and a concert band in-person experience is going to start this Monday [March 1],” freshman saxophone player Aki Okada explained in a Feb. 27 interview. “It is a little bit difficult [to make connections], but I think it’s not impossible because there is a rest time and students can talk with other members.”

Visual art

Students may attend visual art activities inside the building without too much worry, except the usual precautions of staying socially distanced and masked. While many are still working at home, in-person experiences are beneficial for more hands-on art courses such as ceramics.

“I am planning on having my advanced ceramics students come in a few times to work on the wheel,” ceramics teacher Marla Seibold says. “We are also thinking about having a glazing day sometime in the spring.”

Although there is much to be determined in the near future, cartooning teacher Petra Maton has also planned an optional draw-and-chat experience for her students.

Finally, the school provided tie-dying opportunities as part of the in-person Monday Funday activities. Senior Sofie Hletko attended the event soon after in-person experiences began.

“I did enjoy the in-person experience. We all wore masks, we were pretty spaced out in the cafeteria and we did the COVID-19 self-certification on myETHS before arriving,” Hletko explains.


There is good news for those who enjoy participating or attending ETHS plays and musicals. The “drama” continues as the theater department adapts to the changes COVID-19 has placed.

Theater director Timothy Herbert is administering tours of the theater facilities for current ninth graders.

“Just as a way to really welcome the kids who will be the future of the department and show them what ETHS theatre has to offer,” Herbert says. “Mr. Carney and I would love to meet with the same students in the future for other enrichment activities if the schedule permits.”

Herbert plans on organizing a digital version of YAMO, the student-directed and performed theater and dance show that usually includes more than 100 cast and crew.

“We’ve been meeting weekly in-person with members of the board for a month or so now, puzzling over what this version of the show might look like,” he says.

The YAMO board has been holding meetings in the ETHS Upstairs Theater, and senior Olive Cantor has been a part of the plans to make YAMO a reality during this school year.

“We’ve been working to use this unusual format to our advantage through fun editing gags and even a scene in claymation,” Cantor says.

The rehearsals are planned to take place in-person, as well as filmed. Flyers for virtual auditions have already been distributed to ETHS students via email.

Another theater event to look forward to is the freshman-sophomore play that will be distributed virtually if put together.