Imani Smith

Online Managing Editor

21 December, 2022

Visual art is something that can be created in many different ways. Mediums such as dance, photography, and painting all express different things to various people. At Atholton, there are a multitude of outlets through courses and clubs, for students to pour out their creative ideas. While enjoying what they love to do, artsy students also have the ability to connect with people by contributing to the community around them. Recently, Atholton’s security officer in particular, Officer Guizzotti, became one of their biggest supporters.

Over the course of the current school year and the last, the NAHS sponsored by Mr. Brenfleck had been completing a mural for the security office. The room is home to Officer Michael Guizzotti, the only security officer at Atholton, who works alongside Officer Ryan Kane from the Howard County Police Department. According to Mr. Brenfleck, Officer Guizzotti came to him explaining that his “bland” office needed sprucing up by the students.

After retiring as a Baltimore police officer, Officer Guizzotti has been working in the school system for the past ten years. What inspired him to become a police officer in the first place was growing up with his mother, who fell victim to drug addiction. “I saw firsthand how drugs destroy families and homes,” he stated, “so I became a police officer to help change that.”

After high school, Guizzotti had to make the difficult decision of separating himself from his mother in order to put himself in a better position. “When people can’t help themselves you have to distance yourself,” he said. “She’s my mother and I will always love her, but I can’t condone or support the choices she makes, and I can’t let her drug habits drag me down. Unfortunately, I have to keep my love for her at a distance.”

The morals that he had to learn from his own family growing up align with what he strives to enforce with the students of Atholton. He explains, “I think students at the high school level already know right from wrong, so I’m just here to reinforce it.” His goals parallel the “good aunts and uncles that always looked out for me, and tried to look out for me and help guide me in the path of doing the right thing.”

Officer Guizzotti, who was also chosen one of November’s “staff member of the month,” considered both the achievement and the mural to be “an honor.” Mr. Brenfleck agreed, and emphasized the importance of conducting acts of service for others as a part of the National Art Honor Society.

Mr. Brenfleck has sponsored the National Art Honor Society for about 4-5 years. When it comes to creating visual art in general, Brenfleck, who’s favorite medium is the simplicity of a pencil or charcoal drawing, said, “I think that art is a wonderful way for us to express ourselves because a lot of people have a hard time expressing themselves verbally, and it helps us tap into our creative side.”

In relation to his students, he continues, “the people of the National Art Society already believe in those things and have a special place for the arts. This is just a place for them to get together with people who feel the same way.”

The club members originally brainstormed multiple visions for the office mural, and brought them to Officer Guizzotti for him to choose his favorite. “The students enjoyed it,” Brenfleck recalled, “because they were doing something they love while doing something for their staff. It turned out really nice so I think they felt proud, especially because he loved it.”

One returning member of the National Art Honor Society, Ron Neal, claimed that he felt proud to be a part of something that made someone so happy. He said, “It felt like a well-needed opportunity to give back to the staff who dedicate their time to us day in and day out.” He continued by explaining that “it was rewarding to see how our hard work eventually paid off.”

While the students expected no reward, Officer Guizzotti still threw the kids a pizza party as a huge thank you. Although this is not the only way students can express appreciation for school staff. Guizzotti explains that students can further express their appreciation for teachers and staff “just by saying hi or good morning, and being friendly.”

The overall message that the brand-new mural communicates is the importance of having compassion for others, a message that the club consistently acts upon, and that Guizzotti strives to embody daily. “Just the idea of being able to help people like that makes it worth it,” Mr. Brenfleck said. “What better way to do something that you’re good at and you enjoy doing? We’re happy to do the things that make us happy and that makes them happy because they enjoy the art themselves, so it’s like a win-win.”

Similarly, Officer Guizzotti’s moral standpoint ultimately boils down to “right from wrong,” he says. “We all know good from evil, because we all have a moral compass deep down inside.”

The National Art Honor Society is very likely to continue service projects for groups of people in the near future, intending to leave the same creative mark on those similar to that of Atholton’s officer. According to Mr. Brenfleck, “anywhere there’s a bare wall would be a great opportunity to add more color and art.”

Posted by Imani Smith

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