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Amber Flores, a junior at Bitburg, practices her portraiture in the drawing-portraiture workshop at this year's Creative Connections, a weeklong visual and performing arts symposium.
Amber Flores, a junior at Bitburg, practices her portraiture in the drawing-portraiture workshop at this year's Creative Connections, a weeklong visual and performing arts symposium. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Amber Flores, a junior at Bitburg, practices her portraiture in the drawing-portraiture workshop at this year's Creative Connections, a weeklong visual and performing arts symposium.
Amber Flores, a junior at Bitburg, practices her portraiture in the drawing-portraiture workshop at this year's Creative Connections, a weeklong visual and performing arts symposium. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Vilseck's Salimata Kamara, left, and other students in the drawing-portraiture class work on their drawings at this year's Creative Connections.
Vilseck's Salimata Kamara, left, and other students in the drawing-portraiture class work on their drawings at this year's Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Instructor Steve King discusses Abbie Pannell's work with her during a class in oil pastels at the annual DODDS-Europe Creative Connections. Pannell is a junior at Heidelberg.
Instructor Steve King discusses Abbie Pannell's work with her during a class in oil pastels at the annual DODDS-Europe Creative Connections. Pannell is a junior at Heidelberg. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Emily Cannon, left, a Naples senior, and AFNORTH freshman Hope BonnenClark work on their pieces in the oil pastel class at Creative Connections for Department of Defense Dependents Schools high school students.
Emily Cannon, left, a Naples senior, and AFNORTH freshman Hope BonnenClark work on their pieces in the oil pastel class at Creative Connections for Department of Defense Dependents Schools high school students. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Instructor Najet Ayachi watches Lakenheath senior Hannah Armstrong work on a piece in the  watercolors class at Creative Connections, a weeklong symposium in visual and performing arts for Department of Defense Dependents Schools high school students.
Instructor Najet Ayachi watches Lakenheath senior Hannah Armstrong work on a piece in the watercolors class at Creative Connections, a weeklong symposium in visual and performing arts for Department of Defense Dependents Schools high school students. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Leiny Ramirez, a Sigonella senior, works on a watercolor at Creative Connections. One hundred and forty-seven students from 25 DODDS-Europe schools participated in the weeklong annual arts program.
Leiny Ramirez, a Sigonella senior, works on a watercolor at Creative Connections. One hundred and forty-seven students from 25 DODDS-Europe schools participated in the weeklong annual arts program. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Instructor Cary Sand directs the advanced strings workshop at Creative Connections. One hundred and forty-seven students from 25 Department of Defense Dependents Schools high schools in Europe participated in the weeklong annual program.
Instructor Cary Sand directs the advanced strings workshop at Creative Connections. One hundred and forty-seven students from 25 Department of Defense Dependents Schools high schools in Europe participated in the weeklong annual program. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
'Poetry in Motion' instructor Raina Leon, standing, goes over some moves with her class during a session at Creative Connections.
'Poetry in Motion' instructor Raina Leon, standing, goes over some moves with her class during a session at Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Alexandra Wittkofske, a Bitburg senior, left, and Bahrain junior Hope Chinn practice some steps in their 'Poetry in Motion' workshop at Creative Connections.
Alexandra Wittkofske, a Bitburg senior, left, and Bahrain junior Hope Chinn practice some steps in their 'Poetry in Motion' workshop at Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A.J. Weir of SHAPE, participating in the mixed media class at Creative Connections, sketches members of the 'Poetry in Motion' workshop as they rehearse.
A.J. Weir of SHAPE, participating in the mixed media class at Creative Connections, sketches members of the 'Poetry in Motion' workshop as they rehearse. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A trio of AFNORTH students -- from left, Alex Berryman, Matt Reges and Jakke Legault -- work on their compositions in the 'Music/Arranging/Creating' class at Creative Connections
A trio of AFNORTH students -- from left, Alex Berryman, Matt Reges and Jakke Legault -- work on their compositions in the 'Music/Arranging/Creating' class at Creative Connections (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Sara Dunn of Patch, left, and Alexandra Dick of SHAPE, both sophomores, work on their art in the class on optical illusions and visual perspectives -- called 'Spherical Thinking' -- at Creative Connections.
Sara Dunn of Patch, left, and Alexandra Dick of SHAPE, both sophomores, work on their art in the class on optical illusions and visual perspectives -- called 'Spherical Thinking' -- at Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Garrett Hall, a Lajes senior, talks to instructor Dick Termes about his work in the class on optical illusions and visual perspectives at Creative Connections.
Garrett Hall, a Lajes senior, talks to instructor Dick Termes about his work in the class on optical illusions and visual perspectives at Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Incirlik junior Latonya White adds color to one of her art works in the mixed media workshop at this year's Department of Defense Dependents Schools' Creative Connections.
Incirlik junior Latonya White adds color to one of her art works in the mixed media workshop at this year's Department of Defense Dependents Schools' Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Members of the show choir class at this year's Creative Connections rehearse their finale, a song from the musical 'Bye Bye Birdie.' More than 140 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe high schools attended the weeklong creative and performing arts program.
Members of the show choir class at this year's Creative Connections rehearse their finale, a song from the musical 'Bye Bye Birdie.' More than 140 students from Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe high schools attended the weeklong creative and performing arts program. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Members of the show choir class at this year's Creative Connections rehearse a song from the musical 'Bye Bye Birdie.' More than 140 students from 25 Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe high schools attended the weeklong creative and performing arts symposium.
Members of the show choir class at this year's Creative Connections rehearse a song from the musical 'Bye Bye Birdie.' More than 140 students from 25 Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe high schools attended the weeklong creative and performing arts symposium. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Ramstein sophomore Samuel Friday and Cheryl Craver, a senior at Aviano, set up a shot in the video production workshop at Creative Connections. For the first time students used video-capable digital still cameras to make a film.
Ramstein sophomore Samuel Friday and Cheryl Craver, a senior at Aviano, set up a shot in the video production workshop at Creative Connections. For the first time students used video-capable digital still cameras to make a film. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Heidelberg senior Alanna Foss sketches her sphere before adding color to her work in the 'Spherical Thinking' class on optical illusions and visual perspectives at Creative Connections.
Heidelberg senior Alanna Foss sketches her sphere before adding color to her work in the 'Spherical Thinking' class on optical illusions and visual perspectives at Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Mannheim senior Tre Simmons sketches Vilseck's Melissa Camara during a mixed-media session at Creative Connections.
Mannheim senior Tre Simmons sketches Vilseck's Melissa Camara during a mixed-media session at Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Bahrain senior Quincy Bazen and Iris Freeman, a Wiesbaden junior, act out a scene depicting war in the drama workshop at this year's Creative Connections.
Bahrain senior Quincy Bazen and Iris Freeman, a Wiesbaden junior, act out a scene depicting war in the drama workshop at this year's Creative Connections. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Members of the drama class at Creative Connections act out fear, as they rehearse scenes based on 'Wings,' by Linda J. Barnes.
Members of the drama class at Creative Connections act out fear, as they rehearse scenes based on 'Wings,' by Linda J. Barnes. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Members of the advanced strings workshop practice a piece at this year's Creative Connections. From left are Cassandra Schreiber of Patch, Emma Waugh of Wiesbaden, Gabriella Bastidas of Rota, Katherine Byrnes of Naples, Ashlee Fowler of AFNORTH and Alexandra Zablotsky of Ramstein.
Members of the advanced strings workshop practice a piece at this year's Creative Connections. From left are Cassandra Schreiber of Patch, Emma Waugh of Wiesbaden, Gabriella Bastidas of Rota, Katherine Byrnes of Naples, Ashlee Fowler of AFNORTH and Alexandra Zablotsky of Ramstein. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

OBERWESEL, Germany — The sound of 15 high school students belting out “Put on a Happy Face” from the stage musical “Bye Bye Birdie” reverberated through the halls, but teens gathered at a youth hostel in Oberwesel this week didn’t need a prompt to smile.

Students from 25 Department of Defense Dependents Schools high schools in Europe spent the week flexing their creative muscles as part of the annual Creative Connections program. The 147 students were selected by a panel of judges from a much larger pool of applicants.

The theme of this year’s visual and performing arts symposium was “Imagine,” and it featured 11 workshops in which students immersed themselves in the fine arts in a setting reminiscent of a bohemian college town.

“The best part for them is being able to do what they love to do all day long for five days, and meeting other students who have the same mind-set,” said mixed-media instructor Kathy TerVeen, a former AFNORTH art teacher.

A sign in the oil pastel workshop encouraged students with slogans such as “When creating, don’t be afraid of making mistakes” and “Take pride in being a creative artistic person. Artists are the finest people on the planet.”

“At my school, we’re very sports focused, so it’s nice to see a collaborative effort toward the arts, too,” said Naples senior Kiara Hall, 17, who was participating in the video production workshop.

In a melting pot of creative offerings, students in one class mixed classic and modern techniques of portrait drawing, while in another class optical illusions and different visual perspectives were explored. Students in the video production workshop were at a nearby castle using digital single-lens reflex cameras to film their own movie.

There were plenty of performance arts on the menu as well. One group of students sharpened individual drama talents while practicing ensemble techniques. Another one was nearby arranging and creating music with professional production software.

AFNORTH senior Elie Katzenson, 17, took part in a new offering, “Poetry in Motion,” which she explained was a mix of oral poetry, dancing and singing.

“A lot of the schools are small in DODDS so you’re the biggest fish in this little pond, and so when you come here everyone’s a superstar at what they do,” said Katzenson, who hopes to attend Stanford University next year to study international relations and art.

Participants praised the open environment in which students felt comfortable critiquing one another’s works and learning new techniques for their crafts.

“Here you can walk up to anybody and say ‘Hi, my name is’ and you become best friends,” said Wiesbaden senior Anna Anderson, 17, who was working on a project in the visual perspectives class.

The event culminated with an art exhibit and performances put on by the students.

“You get to work with all these new people, you find all this new stuff and all this great talent … you’re not worried about your classes and all the other things at school, you’re living your art and that’s really incredible,” said Ramstein junior Mark Davis, 16, who was participating in the show choir.

Students’ work and photos from the event can be viewed at www.doddshost.net. When prompted, type in “dodeateam” and “achieve09” for the username and password, respectively.

pattonm@estripes.osd.mil

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