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The High Post

The student news site of Greater Latrobe High School

The High Post

The student news site of Greater Latrobe High School

The High Post

A Unique Art Collection Adorns the Halls of Greater Latrobe

Greater Latrobe contiunes its Legacy of Art
A print of November Morning adorns Kay Elder’s living room.


Students look at the legacy of Mr Rogers who thought highly of the art collection.

Kay Elder flipped through A Unique Vision of Art until she stumbled across a favorite of hers November Morning by Roy Hilton. A copy of the print hangs in her living room visible to anyone who walks in. It reminds her of the painting of her childhood, growing up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in McKeesport. 

Traditionally in November, Greater Latrobe students prepare to vote on the pieces of art to be added to the special collection. The pieces of art up for consideration were housed in the Center for Student Creativity at the high school. In recent weeks students would wander into the CSC to see the art in person. 

On November 2, the Greater Latrobe Art Conservation Trust will be hosting the annual Art Gala. The art pieces will be on display on the night of the Art Gala in the CSC. Over the years the student body has collected paintings of all different kinds of styles. When going through the paintings there really is something to appeal to any person’s style and preference. Members of the community are welcome to come to the fancy event, overflowing with fabulous food, music played by the Greater Latrobe Jazz Ensemble, and presentations of art from the student docents. The commons area decor is inspired by another piece of Roy Hilton’s paintings Light Snow which was inquired in 1948. 

The art collection puts Greater Latrobe High School on the map. With over 200 pieces of art in the halls, it is the largest collection of student-selected and mostly student-purchased art in the United States. The well-known collection was started by two Greater Latrobe teachers, Mary Martha Himler and James Beatty. Greater Latrobe pioneered the starting of art collections in our schools and around our area. Many schools are following in GL’s paw prints by acquiring art. 

When talking about the Art Trust the name Barbara Nakles has to come into conversation. Nakles is the author behind, A Unique Vision of Art: The Special Collection of Greater Latrobe School District. An Extended Vision of Art showcases works purchased since the 2008 publication including those of the junior high and elementary schools collections. The book written by Nakles is a compilation of all the pieces of art in Greater Latrobe’s large collection. The book includes a picture of every painting and a description or story written by Nakles.

 Kathryn Elder, member of the Art Trust Board, said, ”Barbara has such a knack with words. I mean you read all of these descriptions and they are all Barabra’s work. She has managed to describe and get the feeling and recall the time and all the work she has done on the catalogs has just been amazing.” 

 With the collection consisting of numerous pieces and being in existence since 1936, the art needed to be cared for in a professional manner because of the significance it has in the community. The GLSD Art Conservation Trust was founded in 1991 in order to see that art was conserved in a proper way and to raise money for maintenance and special products conducted by the trust. 

The art collection plays a special role in everyone’s life who walks the halls of Greater Latrobe. Every student has a favorite piece of art, one that is important to them because of a special memory or maybe it reminds them of a loved one. An important thing about the art collection is the art does not belong to one individual person. The art belongs to everyone in the community. No matter a student’s situation, they are able to come to school and look at the art. Art is something that will never be taken away and will always be there for them. 

Elder says, “It’s my experience that many of the people who are the ones who come to the gala remember a painting. They’ll remember it being the one their class chose or they will remember it being outside a certain classroom when they went to that class every day. And it was really a part of their lives.”

Artists take pride in Greater Latrobe students who take notice of their artwork and want it to be voted upon. Elder says, “I think it’s wonderful how the artists come to the gala and are happy to be chosen, to be shown, and to be one of the choices for the students. It’s a real feather in their cap, so to speak.”

“I think it’s hard to be an artist. You’ve got these visions in your head of what you think something ought to look like and you’ve worked very hard to get it either on paper or sculpted or on a canvas and it certainly is affirming when students want to take it back to their school and put it on display. It shows them that this choice of theirs to be an artist adds value to society,” said Elder. 

Some artists have multiple pieces of art already in the collection. Lydia Mack, a former art teacher at GLSH, has pieces in the collection and has one being voted on in 2023. Doreen Currie, whose grandson Ben is a senior this year, has two being voted on this year with others already a part of the collection. Kathy Rafferty also has had paintings chosen by students, including the famous Mr. Rogers portrait. 

Students also enjoy the art and take inspiration from it. Greater Latrobe junior Chloe Hill stated, “Every time I walk into this school and see the wonderful works of art displayed on our walls, I am astonished by the hard work and dedication of these skilled artists. Art impacts my happiness and well-being. It’s a visual representation of the creativity, expressions, and diversity of the student body. Through the various forms of art, everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of our art collection.” 

Elder frequents the high school and sees familiar pieces. “I just love all the paintings. I can get lost just walking from one to another. I might pass two or three and then there is one that I remember that I’ve seen before or liked. I have a favorite, but I really like them all.” 

Elder also notes the significance they can have on students, “I think that they are such a backdrop to students’ experiences that go to our school. That’s one thing about Latrobe that I’ve always said- there is always lots of stuff going on at Latrobe that nobody really pays any attention to because they’ve thought it has always been there and for them, it’s just how is, but people who go to other schools don’t have these walls to walk through when they are on their way to class.” Students at Latrobe show respect towards the paintings. They understand the importance and significance they have. 

During the annual art gala, the trust chooses the annual honoree. With past honorees being of much significance to the collection this year had to be just as worthy of this tremendous honor. The SAMA-Ligonier Valley fits these strict perimeters. Jessica Golden, Greater Latrobe’s Center for Student Creativity Director, said, “The SAMA Ligonier Valley has been a vital partner in promoting the arts for the past 25 years. Annually, the Student Council selects artwork to bring back to the high school for consideration from their SPCarts Juried Exhibition. Over the years, we have had numerous artist-in-residences made possible by their partnership with the PA Council for the Arts and every year they host the Artists of the 21st Century, which features student artwork from local districts.”

Kathryn Elder states, “The SAMA is being recognized at the gala this week because it shows how this whole area has a regard for the art in our lives, and people have established SAMA and kept it going. We’ve borrowed from them and they have borrowed from our collection and it is a wonderful thing to have that going back and forth between the two.” 

Every student, teacher, and person who has walked through the halls at Greater Latrobe has a piece of art that has a special place in their heart. November Morning, by Roy Hilton, acquired in 1945, is one that has always been a favorite of Elder. The painting shows the rolling hills of Mount Lebanon with a Medigold truck driving down the road delivering milk. In the background the skyline of Pittsburgh off in the distance, which takes Elder back to her childhood memories.

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About the Contributor
Maggie Elder
Maggie Elder, Staff Writer
Maggie Elder is ecstatic to be writing for The High Post as a junior this year! The 2023-2024 school year will be her first year on the High Post. She had the incredible pleasure of having Mrs. Stallings for English her sophomore year and got to see some of the beautiful things the High Post did last year. Maggie is a member of the Greater Latrobe girls varsity swim team. She also swims for the Greater Latrobe Aqua Club and Allegheny Mountain Swimming. Her main event is the 100 breaststroke, but this past year she was one of the four people in the state qualifying 400 free relay. While she has many athletic achievements, she has also had many academic accomplishments. Maggie is a member of Mu Alpha Theta, the French National Honors Society, Interact Club, Key Club, Link Crew, and Environmental Club. Maggie’s favorite place to be is in Ocean City, New Jersey with her family. As a High Post member, she volunteered at the Banana Split Festival and Trooper Iwaniec Race. Maggie decided to take Multimedia Journalism because she enjoys covering events happening around the school and enjoys spending time with her friends who are also taking the class.   

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    Gina Marie SchifanoNov 1, 2023 at 3:41 pm

    How do we go view it?