ART Receiving Its Due at the BC Justice Center
by Cate Murway

“Congratulations to the students of Bristol Township School District whose art work was chosen to be displayed in the Jury Assembly room in the Bucks County Justice Center. Visitors are welcome to continue to view their art work until April, weekdays Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.” 
Mary K. Smithson, Clerk of Courts Bucks County/ Villa Joseph Marie HS Board of Directors Vice Chairman

The $86 million seven-story Bucks County Justice Center facility was built across the street from the ’60s-era county courthouse in Doylestown and officially unveiled January 20, 2015.
Courthouses are not meant to be museums. But law can't function without community, and the arts and business are part of that community. 
The new Center’s success doesn't just depend on the bricks and technology: Its success, as our founders professed, depends on the People who are bringing regular traffic to this new space.
It took more than three years to construct this facility.

A sincere thank you is extended to Judge of the Court of Common Pleas Honorable Jeffrey L. Finley, and Mary K. Smithson for their dedicated commitment. This was Mrs. Smithson’s idea but “it couldn’t have been done without President Judge Finley’s support. I am humbled to be a public servant.”
Honorable Judge Brian T. McGuffin, Dr. Melanie Gehrens, Ed.D Superintendent of Schools, BTSD, and Dr. Catherine Newsham, Ed.D Administrator: BTSD Special Education, along with several of the dedicated art teachers proudly attended the Art event.

When the new Justice Center was designed, the most expensive public construction project in county history, an important part of the design process was making sure that the art work that was displayed in the center had a strong connection to Bucks County. In pushing the art/community connection further, the Clerk of Courts, Mrs. Mary Smithson, invites students to be a part of this prestigious honor and display their artwork in the jury assembly room in B1 of the renovated Bucks County Justice Center in Doylestown.

In addition to being recognized for their work and receiving an art show certificate, the talented Bristol Township students and their families were invited to tour the justice center and have the opportunity to see the ceremony room and the dais platform on the 4th floor.

“This is not TV. Justice is served here every day. We are public servants. We’re the real deal. We’ve been elected by the people,” Mrs. Smithson endearingly reminded the attendees.

It was a fantastic community celebration of our students, with their “viewed as notable” creativity, as well as their excellent craftsmanship that was put up for display by Mr. Mark Morgan, the Art Chairman of Harry S. Truman High School. It was truly an incredible collage of BTSD diverse budding talents, and most meaningful to those who know the up and coming artists.
Mary Smithson has been so instrumental in highlighting the artwork of students throughout the county. She shared, “There are a lot of students with artistic ability and being recognized helps them to expand in the field of art and we’re happy to recognize their individual potential.”
The students were thrilled that so many people turned out to see their creations.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Middle School Principal Kevin Boles awarded the students with a certificate.

This was the 4th Anniversary of this artwork recognition/ showcasing event. Some of the best PA School Districts, Central Bucks, Council Rock and the Pennridge School Districts have been selected to participate and were featured in the past.
Artists of all ages, elementary school through High School, presented their works at the Justice Center, and they all exuded a passion for art and heartfelt appreciation for their teachers. 

Arts education is a big part of building a 21st century creative mind and the arts increase opportunities for self-expression, enabling the aspiring artists to tap into a different part of their brain and imagine new ways of interpreting the world and solutions to complex problems.

Lily Isabela Martin is in the 10th grade and she lives with her very outwardly supportive, loving grandmother, [Clara] Paulette Valentin who attests that “Lily has always had a passion for art but when her dad passed away, she threw herself even more into it.” Lily’s teacher, Ms. Karen Bryceland keeps her motivated and she especially enjoys working with acrylics. Another favorite hobby/sport for her is figuring skating at the Grundy Ice Arena in Bristol Borough while preparing for her competitive season. Lily is quite determined to continue her art education in college and currently the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and the University of Arizona, School of Art are on her radar.

Simone Lenay Graves is in the 7th grade in Mr. William Shamlian’s Art class. She favors using Prismacolor Colored Pencils, oil crayons and pastels, and Copic Art Markers for her portraits. Her obsession for portraits began with caricature drawing when she was only 10. Simone is also a student of Fleisher Art Memorial, a unique and inspiring space on Catharine Street in Philadelphia that offers a variety of ways for students to tap into their inner artists and hone their skills.

Laila DeMario-Doe is in the 6th grade and loves art! It just may be her favorite subject. Her Aunt, Gina M. DeMario, VJM ’92 has been a most positive inspiration. Gina was in the Art class taught by the extremely talented Sister Madeleine Bunevicius, S.S.C. at Villa Joseph Marie and she flourished in portrait creation and working with clay. Creativity is contagious and it has been passed on.

Leilani F.X. Santos is also in the 6th grade. This artistically creative student has enjoyed working with paint and crayons and pencils since she was 4 years old. “My Uncles all draw!” Leilani also stitches and crochets eye catching pieces, and she plays the oboe, officially one of the most difficult instruments to play, as well as the violin in her school band. 

Ashley Rebekah Raabe is in the 5th grade in Mrs. Christine Besack’s Art class. Ashley confirmed that pencils are her first choice of medium and she presented her self portrait at the Justice Center show. 
She also likes working with acrylics…. but they are her second choice.

Arts integration clearly improves school culture and student success.
Creativity is one of the superpowers that can help one become the best version of one’s self and make the world a better place. Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Incorporating the arts throughout the curriculum can certainly boost a student’s confidence. ... AND their communication skills! 
A child's mind is not a container to be filled but rather a fire to be kindled.

Honorable Jeffrey L. Finley and Mary K. Smithson are masterfully helping hard-working students and their caring teachers to succeed while promoting such comprehensive, innovative initiatives with the art/community connection. 
They ART clearly making a difference!

Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street 
Doylestown, PA 18901

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Lily Martin
w/ her grandmother, 
[Clara] Paulette Valentin
Lily w/ Mary K. Smithson
7th grader, Simone Graves
w/ Judge Finley & Mary Smithson
Laila DeMario-Doe
w/ her Aunt Gina M. De Mario, VJM '92 
& Mary Smithson
6th grader, Laila DeMario-Doe
w/ Judge Finley & Mary Smithson
5th grader, Ashley Rebekah Raabe 
w/ her mom, Tricia Vanderwarker
6th grader, Leilani Santos
click on thumbnails to enlarge