Quinn leading MHS fine arts program on professional, quality path

Four Meeker High School students traveled with instructor Ben Quinn to Denver recently, where they were honored for being state art competition winners. From left to right are: Dom Cardile, McKenna Kummer, Faith Patterson and Anna Walsh.

Four Meeker High School students traveled with instructor Ben Quinn to Denver recently, where they were honored for being state art competition winners. From left to right are: Dom Cardile, McKenna Kummer, Faith Patterson and Anna Walsh.
Four Meeker High School students traveled with instructor Ben Quinn to Denver recently, where they were honored for being state art competition winners. From left to right are: Dom Cardile, McKenna Kummer, Faith Patterson and Anna Walsh.
MEEKER I Ben Quinn directs the fine arts program at Meeker High School and is an amazingly talented and creative artist and teacher, according to his students, their parents, his colleagues and many community members who have seen the creative works of his fine arts students.

Quinn grew up in Meeker, graduating with the MHS Class of 1999, and was mentored by art teacher and artist Andy Goettel. Quinn attended Adams State University in Alamosa, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in art and art education as well as a master of arts degree in art. He also received an endorsement in educational leadership, giving him credentials to serve as an academic administrator.
Quinn serves as vice president for the Colorado Arts Education Association and served on the team that wrote the Colorado Department of Education K-12 curriculum standards for visual arts education.
He taught for nine years in the Norwood school system before accepting the position at Meeker High School. In 2007, Quinn was honored as the Adams State University Exceptional New Alumnus and has received many prestigious awards in fine arts education over the years.
He is an adjunct or associate faculty member of Colorado Northwestern Community College and his fine arts students may receive college credit along with high school credit for the four levels of AP studio art he teaches.
He also serves as an assistant football coach and assistant track coach at Meeker High School as well as a substitute school bus driver.
Quinn is a member of the board of directors for the Meeker Arts and Cultural Council, and he and his wife, Rochelle, have two sons: Ethan, 9, in third grade, and Joshua, 5, in kindergarten.
“I was inspired by teacher and mentor Andy Goettel and wanted to share those opportunities with high school students,” Quinn said of his professional inspiration. “…I am so thankful to have the opportunity to return to Meeker and to teach the fine arts program at MHS, where the students are gifted and creative and where the program is so well-supported and encouraged by MHS Principal Dr. Kim Ibach, the school district administration, school board members, colleagues, parents and the Meeker community. None of this would be possible if it were not for such a strong fine arts advocacy in the community.”
Quinn is especially proud of the accomplishments of his students, some of whom have won prestigious awards. The Scholastic Art Awards program is equivalent to the Colorado state championship competition for high school and middle school artists.
More than 5,000 art works from around the state were submitted this year, and entries from each school are limited to only the best of the qualified submissions.
First-year art student Anna Walsh received an honorable mention for an acrylic painting.
Junior Faith Patterson received a Silver Key award for a linoleum block print.
Senior McKenna Kummer received a Silver Key for a large acrylic painting.
Sophomore Dom Cardile received Meeker’s first Scholastic Gold Key Award for a black and white digital photograph. The work was displayed in the History Colorado State Historical Society Center in Denver. Cardile is one of only three students from Western Colorado to receive the prestigious Gold Key, with the two others being from Palisade and Fruita Monument high schools. As a Colorado champion, Cardile’s work has been sent to the National Competition, where it is being juried with results pending.
March is Youth Art Month (YAM) and MHS artists have three creations in the second floor of the Colorado State Capitol building from March 17-25. YAM flags were created by Jake Henderson, Amanda Begaye and Nishiko Thelen.
The students traveled to Denver as a part of the Janus Student Art-buying program at the Cherry Creek Art Festival. They also enjoyed the Denver Art Museum which was a first time experience for many students.
Community service projects performed by MHS art students include working with elementary school students on art projects. They also provide philanthropic projects to help HopeWest health center including gingerbread houses and pumpkin carving, and they may be assisting with the new Heritage Culture Center creative designs. The students also contribute their talents to create signage and advertisements for the Rio Blanco County Fairgrounds events.
Most of the student work is submitted to the largest international online student art gallery, “Artsonia,” Visit www.artsonia.com and enter ”Meeker” to see local entries. Artsonia is also a progress-monitoring tool that provides a digital portfolio for each student.
Students may make statements and write about their work. Family, friends and community members can subscribe to receive automatic email notifications when a student’s work is published online and can also purchase artwork online. Sales also result in a percentage contribution directly to MHS.
Quinn’s vision for the future of the fine arts programs is to “empower students through creativity and critical thinking that the arts offer.”
He said he hopes that funding may permit hiring faculty for an elementary and middle school fine arts program to enrich students and encourage their interests to participate in the high school program. Youths who learn such talents very early in life experience extraordinary development of creative abilities while their neurological systems are still in early stage development, he said.
Quinn said that a priceless benefit for students participating in fine arts and performing arts is enhancement of talents and abilities in other core curriculum programs such as science, technology, math, engineering, composition and even sports.
He said he also envisions students going out in the community using art to help beautify and contribute artistically to the community, to help students really share with the world through their eyes, and to become creative problem solvers.