Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Value of the Arts

Recently we completed the three-day run of performances for the all-school musical, The Little Mermaid.  It was, as usual, outstanding.  With over 100 participants from first through eighth grade, incredible costumes and beautiful sets, it is an event that involves more constituents within the community than any other.

Dozens of parent volunteers paint and sew for weeks to make the amazing sets and costumes.  Theater alums come back to assist with choreography, and teachers and administrators give their time to help with the sets or supervise the dressing rooms.  There is no better example of a community-wide event.

It's always positive, too, to see a different side of students.  To see the normally reserved student thoroughly engaged in singing or acting, or the normally athletic-centric young man perform a solo in front of a full house affirms the importance of the performing arts.

Additionally, we recently had ten of our students win twelve awards at the annual Scholastic Art Awards.  It was a well-rounded group of students, using a variety of mediums.  It was interesting to note the distribution of boys and girls, many of whom would likely not label themselves as 'artists'.

Just as athletics is important in developing the whole child, a robust arts curriculum is incredibly important in helping students to develop confidence, take risks, use their creative side and challenge themselves in different and important ways.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Assembly Time

Do you remember being in school on the day when the special assembly was the 'animal guy'?  I can remember it vividly - it was one of my favorite times of the year.  He would spend the first few minutes (that seemed like an eternity) going over the rules - 'be quiet, hands to yourself, etc.' while we all looked at all the cages that were covered up by blankets and towels and wondering, 'I wonder what he brought this year?"

Then, after perhaps putting on a heavy leather glove (we knew then that a good one was coming), he would reach into the cage and pull out a hawk, or a porcupine or a raccoon or best of all, a really huge snake.  Watching my teachers, who were clearly terrified, was almost as good as seeing the animals.  When he asked for a volunteer ALL of the hands went up, and if you were one of the chosen ones, you might be able to have a python on your shoulders.

Yesterday in assembly was our annual visit from 'the animal guy' and three decades later it was every bit as great.  When he put on the leather glove and pulled out the three-foot bat, I felt like I was in third grade all over again.

Best of all, though, this time I spent more time watching the kids faces as they watched the presentation - they were focused, intent, full of wonder and absolutely in awe.  It was beautiful. (and the teachers were still terrified).