Print Week at BCA

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Bergen County Academies students reflect on the annual Print Week celebration held at their school. Print Week at the Bergen County Academies is perhaps the most anticipated event of the year for students in the Academy for Visual Arts. Print Week serves as an event for Visual Arts students to come together as an academy, work together to produce an event to remember for years to come, and recognize and celebrate the wide range of talents their peers possess.

Students and Prof. Carberry viewing books written, illustrated, and printed by students in the Academy for Visual Art’s Class of 2018.

The Print Week celebration at BCA is no easy feat. Up to three or even four months prior to the mid-January celebration, Visual students can be found coming up with ideas to make this year’s Print Week better than the last. “Most people think of Print Week as just that one Visual event when all the artwork goes on stage [in the gallery], and you get to walk through it [and look around], but it actually takes months of preparation,” said Phoebe Om, a sophomore in the Visual Academy. “There’s so much work that goes into Print Week.”

Print Week at the Bergen County Academies is an extension of a much larger international event, dating back nearly one-hundred years. A constant for the annual event is that it is always held during the week of the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, a self-acclaimed printer before anything else.

“The concept of Print Week started around 1928, and it wasn’t anything formal,” said Mr. Pavlu, a teacher of Visual Arts at BCA. “It was basically a father-son type thing where one day a year, the fathers [got together with] their boys who entered the printing field…[and] were basically given some recognition for that.”

Students in the Academy for Visual Art receiving awards for their diligent work.

At BCA, Print Week is nearing a historic anniversary of its own. Next year, in 2019, will be the twentieth year students and teachers of the Academy for Visual Arts comes together for this monumental celebration!

How did a festivity which never fails to please the masses at the Bergen County Academies come to be? According to Mr. Pavlu, a retired teacher named Mr. Kragen is accredited with suggesting the idea for the original Print Week.

Kragen was definitely correct in his prediction. Visual Arts students look forward to the Print Week festivities at BCA every year. From the guacamole served at the annual Print Week luncheon to the sheer satisfaction of being recognized for their talents, the event is undoubtedly a fan favorite.

“I feel really honored to have my pieces exhibited in [the Print Week] gallery, along with of course every other Visual Academy student,” said Alice Ipecki, a junior in the Visual Arts Academy. The celebration, which features the anticipated Print Week Gallery, allows Visual Arts students to feel appreciated for all of their efforts as an academy.

Digital self-portraits, as illustrated by Visual students in the Class of 2020.

Ellie DiCostanzo, a sophomore in the Academy for Visual Arts said: “It feels really great, especially because I feel like the Visual Academy is often overlooked, given that there are so many other academies in the school which are represented more often than we are… so I feel like Print Week is just a great time to feel appreciative of what our abilities can do.”

Sarah Applebaum, a sophomore in the Visual Arts Academy said: “It’s really nice to see people looking at my work and appreciating it for all the time I put in it. And it’s really nice to hear positive comments from people who like my work.” Many students in the Visual Arts strive to have at least one– if not more– piece exhibited in the gallery to show their friends and family. Seeing their loved ones’ faces when they take a look at the pieces they have worked so hard on is extremely valued to the students of Visual.

Students in the Academy for Visual Art appreciating the work of a fellow student-artist.

Putting together an event which brings about this much satisfaction is truly a team effort. The original event occurred in 2004 and was nothing like the Print Week celebrations today. “Basically we just covered up the machines in random cloth, and we displayed the artwork– it was just kinda hodge-podge-lodge,” Mr. Pavlu said. “And then, little by little it got to an event like this.”

Today, the juniors and seniors of the Academy for Visual Arts are often the ones to take charge of the annual Print Week festivities, with the seniors focusing on the luncheon, and the juniors honing in on the gallery setup and logistics.

The anticipated student art gallery officially opens on the Thursday of every Print Week celebration at BCA. Before the official opening, an annual Visual Academy tradition is always upheld: the Print Week Luncheon. The luncheon gives Visual Arts students in all grades a chance to spend time together and to appreciate those who have created particularly exceptional work through a small awards ceremony. “It’s always a really festive event that brings the entire academy together,” said Renee Aliko, a senior in the Visual Arts Academy.

Students in the Academy for Visual Art socializing at the Print Week Luncheon.

Maansi Srivastava, another senior in the Visual Arts Academy, said the seniors are always put in charge of planning the luncheon. “I helped a little bit with the setup, but that was mostly up to the Juniors,” she said.

Some of the main driving forces behind the masterful setup of the Print Week gallery were the Visual Academy juniors. “Originally I was only supposed to collect the pieces, but then I worked together with Lexia and Esther to create the setup,” reflected Vincent Kelly, a junior in the Academy for Visual Arts. “I came up with the setup of where things would be, what materials we would use, kind of just like a general area of where everything was going to be, and what would be hung on each wall.” Planning the layout of the gallery was more difficult than simply coming up with ideas and making them come to life, though. There were a few minor setbacks, but as we say in the Visual Arts Academy, there is always enough time to do something over to get it right.

Vincent continued: “Mr. Lang and I developed this idea that we were going to create different rooms this year. That was originally the plan, but when we found out we didn’t have enough hanging walls. So we moved things around and found this layout to be better.”

Students viewing the fine art in the Print Week gallery.

Pieces featured included fine art, digital art, and everything in between. “We have a lot of fun stuff, like Maansi’s music cage,” Vincent said. “We had to create a whole area for it just so that it wouldn’t interfere with the sounds coming from the trailer area and the C-SPAN area.”

Obviously, the event was a huge success. “I definitely am glad I came… I remember my sister had to do all this because she was in Visual,” said Jordan Gutierrez, a sophomore in ACAHA. “She just graduated last year so yeah I remember her having to do all this work.” This year was one of the most memorable Print Week celebrations for Visual Arts students. So next time you see a Visual kid, don’t forget to congratulate them!