2023 ISAS Arts Festival Overview


Photo by Christian Park

Syrus Gupta

Around 150 Upper School fine arts students received the opportunity to showcase their work and talent at the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) Arts Festival the weekend of Apr. 20. This was the first-time students from all grades nine through twelve attended the festival outside of Greenhill.

The ISAS Arts Festival is an annual, three-day performing and visual arts showcase for Upper School students from independent schools in the southwest area of Texas. The festival has grown to be the nation’s premiere annual regional arts festival among independent schools with more than 3,000 students from more than forty schools, including St. Mark’s School of Texas, the Hockaday School and the Episcopal School of Dallas.

In 2023, the festival was hosted at All Saints’ Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Dallas. Various parts of the campus were utilized to host performing arts, such as theater, band, orchestra, choir and improv performances. This was alongside visual arts, which included 2D art, 3D art, photography and film showcases.

Director of Fine Arts Terry Martin says this year went “the smoothest” out of the past couple of years.

“We planned really well,” Martin said. “There were fewer attendees at the festival this year, and I think that made it still fun and exciting but also a little more manageable.”

The first evening on Apr. 20, nearly 200 guests crowded the seats of the digital cinema room, in which Greenhill’s Advanced Video Production class presented an hour-and-a-half long reel of nearly 50 student films.

Viewers expressed enthusiasm and amusement during the screening.

“It was honestly a lot of fun,” said freshman Tara Alim. “I didn’t feel like falling asleep, and there were a lot of people there.”

According to students, the most memorable moment of their trip was getting to see their peers perform in their school’s ‘coffee house’. A coffee house is an occasion for students to display their talents through various performing arts, such as singing or playing an instrument.

“It was so hype and awesome,” said freshman Hazel Goes-Young. “I was really excited to see all my friends perform.”

On the morning of Apr. 21, Greenhill’s coffee house showcased several performances from nearly 20 students, including rock bands, singing duos, solos, pianists and guitarists.

Freshman George Beauchamp says junior Lucas Lopez’s performance of ­­“Can’t Help Falling in Love” was “incredible.”

“I actually had no idea he could sing, so now I’m actively trying to convince him to join choir next year,” Beauchamp said.

Junior Sanjna Kalisetty says sophomore JJ Arbuckle’s performance of “Heart Attack” let her to have a heart attack of her own.

“I became a fangirl in that moment,” she said.

Alim and freshman Jin Huang participated in the coffee house together for a duet of “Sweater Weather”. Huang says she enjoyed the experience and is excited to perform again next year if the opportunity arises.

“It was really hype and I’d say our coffee house was the best compared to other schools,” Huang said. “Tara and I sang the song ‘Sweater Weather’, and I played the drums. I think it was good for our first time.”

Apr. 21 concluded with Greenhill Improv. The troupe aimed to perform around seven games, but due to an issue with an audience participant, two were shut down. Despite this obstacle, students enjoyed the show, and junior Alex Wetzler says it was his favorite part of the festival experience.

“[I had] the opportunity to finally see a Greenhill Improv show, as well as seeing what other improv shows look like,” Wetzler said. “I saw St. Mark’s was getting hot, but Greenhill Improv blew me away. It was honestly so great, especially the music part.”

The “music part” Wetzler refers to is the troupe’s incorporation of “musical improv”. This concept was first introduced this year and has been a major aspect of Greenhill Improv’s shows throughout the year.

Alongside Greenhill’s numerous performances and showcases presented at the ISAS festival, students engaged in workshops and a variety of social activities around the campus.

Students crowded in long lines to food trucks that lined the parking lot near the campus center. The school hallways were almost never empty; students say there was always something to keep them busy.

“I loved playing spikeball, especially with kids outside of school,” Wetzler said. “I actually found myself socializing a lot, and the food was pretty good. Overall, it was pretty tiring, but it was a good experience.”