Shakopee High School hosted students, teachers and judges from around the state for the Section 2AA Minnesota State High School League Visual Arts Festival Friday, April 21.

The sectional competition has students from around Minnesota showcase their best artwork from this school year and compete against their peers. The visual arts categories include drawing, painting, photography, graphic design, sculpture, ceramics, crafting and printmaking.

Around 250 artwork submissions from 15 Minnesota high schools were featured in the festival. Eighteen of these pieces came from Shakopee High School students.

Guest judges evaluated the art pieces, with each submission receiving a score coinciding with a certain rating. Multiple Shakopee students received “superior” and “excellent” ratings, the two top ratings given by judges.

The top festival works move on to the state festival, located at the Perpich Center for the Arts in Golden Valley May 13.

“It’s the best of the best of each of these schools, and it just gives an amazing voice for these artists to share their stories and their amazing hard work and talent in telling these stories,” Shakopee High School art teacher Hannah Staub said.

While the high school has hosted the visual arts festival in previous years, this is the first time the school has hosted it since establishing the Academies of Shakopee. The Arts and Communication Academy hosted the art gallery in the school’s studio space.

Culinary students catered the judges and teachers’ meals for the day, and multiple Academy champions donated items for the judges’ gift bags.

After judging the art pieces for much of the day, a gallery viewing was scheduled in the early afternoon for family and friends to celebrate artwork created by their loved ones.

“To be able to experience that in my own art world was very rewarding,” Shakopee High School senior Emma Zauhar said. “It was an opportunity for all of your friends and family to come see the different kinds of work that you do … it was a really great day, and it was so much fun.”

An awards ceremony took place shortly after the gallery viewing.

The festival also allowed students and teachers to learn from one another and appreciate a wide array of artistic skills coming out of Minnesota.

“It was just so cool to see other people my age making stuff with mediums that I’ve never tried or never seen used like that before,” Zauhar said.

“It’s a great time for area art teachers to get together and share their work, and I’m so impressed with the quality of work our students have been producing in the last couple of years,” Staub added.