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Why the Creative Festivals Were Revised

Dear Church School Directors, Teachers, and Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine,

In January 2011, the Creative Festivals Revision Committee held the first of several meetings, and established two goals: to simplify the Festival regulations for the adults and to make a more engaging program for the children. We chose to address only the four traditional Creative Festival categories at that juncture. The results are listed here, followed by the concerns that prompted the revisions.

We created for the use of all dioceses:

  • Eligibility Requirements
  • A set of judging rubrics for each category
  • A revised Standard Identification Form
  • Job Descriptions
  • Sample letters and forms
  • An improved website

We modified the program by:

  • Removing the certificate of participation for all grades except Preschool and Kindergarten
  • Removing the Preschool and Kindergarten students from the competition, and providing a special certificate of participation to be given to each at the parish level.
  • Providing achievement-level ribbons according to the rubrics (85% and above receives a gold ribbon, 75%-84% earns a silver ribbon, and below 74% earns a bronze ribbon) to be given out at the parish level (ribbons will be ordered in bulk by the Department)
  • Retaining the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards for each grade in each category, with the stipulation that these must come from the gold or silver achievement level winners. If no entries meet this requirement, there will be no 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place awards given for that grade.
  • Adding to the Standard Identification Form: “How does your project relate to the theme?” and a signature space after, “My project was created by me and has not been copied from any other source.”
  • Changing the Standard Identification Form so that the judges will be able to see the title of the art and photography submissions.
  • Allowing for extra diocesan categories on the Submission and Contact information page.

We have added art ideas and writing ideas to the website for Teachers to use with the desire that the children learn to express their faith creatively ALL during the church school year. Orthodoxy is expressed in beauty—from icons to the imagery in our hymns. Responding to the beauty in art and writing helps us appreciate our faith and understand salvation. It is time to claim our heritage and bring the arts into our teaching methods regularly. Although it is easier to have them answer a few questions about a lesson, creating makes them process the concepts in a way that makes them grow spiritually.

Finally, here are the concerns and our responses. Please email any thoughts you have as you work with the Creative Festivals program. May you be blessed for your efforts in Christian Education.

Carole Buleza, Director
Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Christian Education


Concerns Addressed

These are the concerns that prompted the revisions. Our responses follow:

  1. The Festivals appear overwhelming with all the rules, etc. Response a: Standardize and simplify rules
  2. Judging takes too long as the rubrics are too complicated. OR, The students are judged against each other, which produces resentment. Response a: Provide a simple, reliable rubric, modeled after those of public schools. Students will know in advance what criteria will be used for judging.
  3. Entries that don’t express the theme win. OR Entries are disqualified in a preliminary round because they don’t express the theme. Response a: The Standard Identification Sheet will require the student to explain how their entry is related to the theme in case it appears to be irrelevant. Response b: The Standard Identification Sheet will be reformatted so that the title of the artwork will be available to the judges as they evaluate the piece. Response c: The rubric will have a “theme” category weighted just as the others. A judge can give points as to how well the piece expressed the theme.
  4. The children don’t want to participate because they don’t win. Response a: Provide a DVD with their art and writing for the diocesan websites. Response b: Increase the amount of winners by reworking the schema of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, and ribbons of participation. One idea is to have those who score 85% and above receive a Gold Ribbon, and those who score 75-84% receive a Silver Ribbon, and those who score 74% and below receive a Bronze Ribbon.
Creative Festivals Revisions: A Recap (Word)14.9 KB
Creative Festivals Revisions: A Recap (PDF)114.14 KB
Creative Festivals Revisions: A Retrospective (Word)17.49 KB
Creative Festivals Revisions: A Retrospective (PDF)124.8 KB