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Dakota Hyslop accidentally snapped a powerful photograph of a grizzly bear shaking dry.

“I thought I was taking a video, but I took a picture,” said the Hellgate High School senior, who snapped it using his mother’s Cannon Power Shot.

The accidental photograph fostered the 17-year-old’s interest in photography. A year and a half later, Hyslop has built an extensive – and impressive – collection of photographs, seven of which were on display in the school’s annual senior showcase Friday evening.

There, the public enjoyed hundreds of pieces of student art, everything from sketches to ceramics, on display for the one-night-only event.

All Hellgate High seniors are invited to submit work created during the past four years, much of it created while in high school art classes, but not all.

Art can be very introverted and esoteric, said Hellgate art teacher Courtney Christopher. It’s easy to let art pile up, he said.

In addition, “the public doesn’t really see the quality of art that comes out of high school,” said Marvin Pauls, the art department chair.

The showcase serves to resolve both issues.

Anymore, Hyslop always has a camera strapped on his shoulder. He’s never taken a photography class, but he enjoys art, takes photos for the school newspaper and plans to pursue photography after high school.

Wildlife is one of his favorite subjects, but partly because he enjoys the outdoors. He also enjoys contemporary, abstract photos that involve toying with light.

The senior showcase is good because it teaches students about presentation, something Hyslop hasn’t had to worry about until now.

“I wouldn’t have figured out how to mat these,” he said. “It’s also good to say you’ve had your work in a show.”

Students were in the hallway on Friday afternoon hanging their artwork while Hallie Oines was in the art room still working away.

The 17-year-old hasn’t taken many art classes the past two years. Junior year is devoted to academics and senior year to college applications, said Oines, who wants to study astrophysics in college.

It’s left little time to bolster her creative juices. But Christopher, having seen Oines’ artistic potential, encouraged her to submit something to the showcase.

She was making the final touches on a watercolor pencil sketch of a girl touching her hand to her face.

“It just popped into my head,” she said. “I hate hands. I’m terrible at drawing them, but now it’s on paper.”

Reporter Chelsi Moy can be reached at 523-5260 or at

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