By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T
PHILADELPHIA – St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls is justly proud of its newly renovated art room, all bright and shiny and thoroughly up-to-date thanks to a recent capital campaign. There is new flooring, lighting and a ceramics facility with a kiln, as well as new counters, sinks, storage areas and high-speed Internet. However, among these renovations, there are still touches of history, including the exposure and renovation of the antique pressed-tin ceiling original to the building.
But the real gem isn’t the room; it’s what happens in it. St. Hubert has a comprehensive art program tracing back to the school’s foundation in 1941 that really came of age in the 1950s, during the administration of the school’s first resident principal, Father Richard Simons.
“Father Simons had a great interest in art, and we have a collection of some really fine pieces of art,” said St. Hubert President, Sister Alma Rose Schlosser, S.S.J. Underscoring the quality of the program, some of the best pieces, including an excellent representation of the legend of St. Hubert hanging in the president’s office, were painted by former faculty members.
But it’s not the facilities, it’s the program itself that is most noteworthy.
“We do drawing, painting, print making ceramics, clay and graphics,” said Fine Arts Chair Donna Cratin.
The program consists of four levels, including advanced placement. Approximately 80 girls take the art courses which are electives. While most will probably not become professionals in an art field, those who do usually do very well, Cratin noted.
“I’ve had girls who pursued painting on a personal level and show in galleries. Many go into graphic arts and some have gone into film. A few have gone into photography,” she said. Many have become art teachers themselves. Others entered interior design or architecture and one designs jewelry for a major brand, she noted.
St. Hubert graduates have been readily accepted into art programs at many colleges known for their art programs, including the University of the Arts, Moore College of Art and Design, Drexel Design School, Philadelphia University and Kutztown University.
“All of our students who try for art school get accepted. I’ve had a few colleges come back and tell me our girls do very well,” said Cratin, herself a Moore graduate who was honored this past summer by Philadelphia University as a distinguished high school teacher. “Many have gotten scholarships based on their portfolio, need, academics – many reasons.”
Other St. Hubert graduates who took the art courses have gone on to college fully intending to pursue an unrelated field. In some instances, “they may not go into art because of the stigma of the starving artist. They find they miss the creativity of art and when it comes time to declare a major they switch and go back to art,” Cratin said.
“I’m considering a career in graphic design,” said Leanne Laporte, a senior and member of the National Honor Society. “I just recently thought about it, you can go far with it.”
Kimberly Blaney, also a senior, enjoys drawing, working with charcoal and painting. “I’ve been drawing since I was little,” she said. “Since coming here Mrs. Cratin has really helped me to develop my skills and really consider a career in art. St. Hubert’s has prepared me for anything I want to do.”
Rachael Hayden, a junior, hopes to go to Temple University, major in business and minor in photography.
“When I was little I wanted to be in front of the camera, now I want to be behind it,” she said. She especially has enjoyed studying the techniques of Andy Warhol. “He took a lot of photos and re-did color. I like that,” she said.
Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.