BRISTOL - The city excels in the arts in a number of ways, with community support.
“Bristol continues to be recognized statewide as having a strong art program,” says Lori Eschner, district art department director.
Local middle and high school students earned 13 awards in the 2018 Connecticut Regional Scholastic Art awards competition. The competition is the largest juried student art exhibition in the state, sponsored by the Connecticut Art Education Association Inc. (CAEA) and The Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford.
Greene-Hills K-8 School once again won a top award, CAEA Best in Show Printmaking, Group 1. This year’s winner is Michael Goff for his print “Tiny Dancer,” which also won a Gold Key Award.
“It is the third year in a row for my students winning ‘Best in Show for Printmaking’ and a Gold Key,” said Joseph Johnson, Michael’s art teacher.
“What makes it special is that this year’s winner, Michael Goff, is the brother of last year’s winner, Danielle Goff. I am very fortunate to have such talented students and the opportunity to help showcase their talent,” Johnson added.
The 683 winning works were chosen in many art media categories from over 2,500 Connecticut student entries from grades 7 through 12.
Last April, for the second year in a row, Bristol was recognized by the nonprofit National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation as one of the Best Communities for Music Education in the country.
Ken Bagley, citywide coordinator for music, announced “with tremendous pride” that the school district had received the award “for its outstanding commitment to music education.”
Bristol joined 527 districts across the country receiving the award in 2017, he said. “To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Bristol answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.”
The designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students, according to NAMM.
“It’s a tremendous honor for us to continue that excellence in music education,” Bagley said. He thanked the Board of Education, the Main Street Community Foundation, and the Quota Club.
In addition, last spring the school district music department received a donation from the Quota Club to help provide students with musical instruments. Karrine Vanasse and Karen Beals presented a check for $1,500 to Bagley to be used for buying instruments for use by students who can’t afford to rent them.
The Dan Cistulli Memorial Music Fund annually gives out scholarships to local elementary and middle school students so they can continue taking music lessons over the summer.
The fund was established through the Main Street Community Foundation in 2004 by the Cistulli family in memory of Dante “Dan” Cistulli II. He grew up in Bristol and graduated from St. Paul Catholic High School in 1971 and was a partner and owner of Rivers Music in Bristol.
He was an avid musician, having played guitar in several local bands for over 30 years. So when he died suddenly at age 50, his family established the fund so his memory and commitment to music could inspire and help others, according to his obituary.
In addition, St. Paul Catholic High School has a strong Performing Arts program, which has earned a number of nominations and wins in the Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards over the years.
Susan Corica can be reached at or .