Celebrating Arts in Ed in My Neighborhood

Along with many, I’ve been celebrating the first National Arts in Education Week. As with any new project, there are a lot of details and more ideas than can be accomplished in a short amount of time. But here are some of the things that have gotten checked off my list.

  1. On Monday, we published NorthwoodArts 2009–2010: Celebrating a Gala Year. This is our annual report highlighting activities and accomplishments of the NHS arts education students and faculty. This accompanies a short video slide show of highlights we completed earlier in the summer.  We presented copies to the Chatham County Superintendent and School Board on Monday evening and posted the online version on our website.
  2. NHSAEF participated in Northwood’s annual Open House. Our local mayor issued a proclamation in conjunction with the national celebration and named it also Pittsboro Arts in Education Week. We shared the proclamation, the annual report, a calendar of upcoming events, met new students & parents, signed up new members and added folks to our listserv.
  3. [I spent Wednesday night as an arts student myself along with Duke students and community members, trying to master Creole for a Haitian anthem the Duke Chapel Choir has scheduled for Sunday.]
  4. On Thursday got some pix of the great banners NHS art students created for the school. Got copies of the annual report in the mail to our representatives in the State Legislature. Participated in a webinar by Americans for the Arts on their upcoming Creative Conversations in October before our ChathamArts Board Meeting.  NHSAEF will be a part of in this exciting initiative. Along with ChathamArts and the NHS arts department, we’re hosting a Creative Conversation at Northwood High School. Our friends from EbzB Productions, Serena Ebhardt and David zum Brunnen will lead an interactive discussion for teachers, students, artists, and community members on Arts Integration—What it is, how it works, and how it benefits students and teachers in all disciplines. In addition to being consummate  professional theatre performers, they have been trained by The Lincoln Center Institute and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to teach AIE Workshops. It’s going to be an exciting beginning to National Arts & Humanities Month.
  5. I’ve tweeted and re-tweeted, posted to Facebook, sent emails, worn my Arts Create Jobs button courtesy of Arts NC.
  6. I’m off the ballgame to see our Marching Chargers perform Amusements. Their first competition is next weekend at Pinecrest Band Fest.
  7. Marching Charger BandOh, and I’ll be collecting your recyclables (laptops, old cell phones, digital cameras, ink jet cartridges, hand held games, etc) at the game for our Arts Ed Fundraiser
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New Horizons

Last week we got to visit Chicago for a few days. Immediately after dropping off our bags at the hotel, we walked over to Millenium Park and had a delightful afternoon, happening on to an open rehearsal by the Grant Park Orchestra for their concert the following night of Bruckner’s 4th Symphony. [an added bonus, with his new iPhone, my husband downloaded the program notes as we sat down!]

grantparkstageThe Grant Park Music Festival dates back to the 1930s and is a 10-week season of free classical concerts. And Gehry’s Jay Pritzker Pavillion is a gorgeous venue. Tourists and community members alike were out at lunch to enjoy the park, the people, and the music. As I watched, I realized this orchestra included something like a 20- or 30-year age span in its membership and I think that’s something we need to think about in Chatham County.

As an arts ed advocate, I spend a good deal of time talking about the benefits of the arts for students—a vehicle for project-based learning; the research about arts study and its effect on other disciplines and lowering of school dropout rates; using the arts to study math, physics, language, history, culture; how the arts  promote teamwork, collaboration, and creative problem-solving, etc. One of the other great benefits I have experienced first-hand is the opportunity it provides to work together across age spans. Orchestras, bands, choral, dance and drama groups can bring together students, teachers, professionals, and amateurs to create  wonderful, educational, enlightening and entertaining experiences.

We provide many group arts experiences for students in our schools—school bands, guitar ensembles, dance ensembles, acting company. The community has groups like Sisters Voices, Fearrington’s Villlage Voices and Harmony Grits. I’m sure many churches have choirs with members across an age span. But I’m not aware of groups like Little Theatre (perhaps CCCC productions involve community members beyond students?), or community bands, or choral societies.

Do you know of groups like this in Chatham County?

Maybe this kind of activity could start small with individual projects or groups combining for a specific event—a holiday concert or 4th of July performance.

The arts are also about building bridges, increasing understanding, and making connections. We might not need to look far beyond our own back yard.

Summer Updates

A few updates from the end of the school year at Northwood, some summer arts opportunities,  and a new report I want to recommend to you over the summer…

First, congratulations to senior Andrew Southerland, Northwood’s recipient of the John Phillip Sousa Award. Created in 1955, the award honors the top student in a high-school band and recognizes superior musicianship and outstanding dedication. It was developed with the cooperation of Helen Sousa Albert and Priscilla Sousa, daughters of the famous composer and bandmaster. Southerland played Euphonium in both the NHS Marching Band and the NHS Concert Band.  He was a featured soloist in last year’s marching band program, Psychoses, as well as a student conductor at the Concert for Memorial Day. Southerland will continue his music studies this fall at Western Carolina University. Both the Northwood band director, Eugene Cottrell, and the principal, Chris Blice, received this award upon graduating from their respective high schools.

Induction ceremonies for new Northwood chapter members of the National Art Honor Society took place this year at the Spring Art Show on May 30. Congratulations to new NAHS members Aubrye Carr, Josy Christian, Kapreshia Covington, Bailey Friedman, Ashley Gardner, Chelsea Gardner, Silvan Goddin, Charlotte Harrison, Emily Kerscher, Michelle Oliver, Claire Pauley, and Jan Reinberg,

Check out the new Photo Albums at the NHSAEF website. We’ve posted pictures from the recent Drama Camp for Chatham middle school students. Students worked for a week with Dr. Carlin and members of the Acting Ensemble to prepare skits and a short play for family and friends on Friday June 19.

This year I began serving as co-chair (along with Kathie Russell ) of ChathamArts’ Arts in Education Committee. This group is responsible for promoting and organizing the residency programs in Chatham County Schools each year. We’re looking forward to 9 residencies in the coming year! This summer ChathamArts kicks off their first series of summer camps and classes. They are working with Briar Chapel to offer several art camps for your child, giving him/her an opportunity to experience music, painting and drama. It’s not too late to register, so check out their camp info here: http://www.chathamarts.org/programs/programs-classes.html

Take a few minutes to read Increasing Arts Demand Through Better Arts Learning. This June 2009 Wallace Foundation “Knowledge in Brief” summarizes new research on how some cities are working to reverse a decades-long decline in arts education in ways that could also lift demand for the arts overall.

As many of you know Northwood is currently undergoing a major renovation effort. When completed this fall, the Arts Education Department will be consolidated in a new, expanded arts wing. NHSAEF is an all-volunteer organization working to promote and enhance NHS arts education. Join us and share you time, talents, and ideas as we work to assist faculty, provide opportunities for students, and promote involvement and collaboration with the community!