Seventh and eighth grade students opened the school year with a whitewater rafting trip down Deerfield River in Massachusetts. Learning to work together to steer a raft through class II and III rapids requires serious teamwork – students have to count on each other to row at the right time to keep the raft on course. Led by guides, the students had the opportunity to really learn what it meant to work as a team. This was a terrific trip that helped us open the school year on a high note! We look forward to building on the trip’s success in the coming weeks and months!
Sixth through eighth grade Performing Arts classes met this week with great enthusiasm and excitement. Students were grouped into each of their “focus” areas based on interest and past experience (some students will be doing more than one focus!), with the understanding that the three disciplines offered in Upper School Performing Arts at Unquowa – Instrumental Music, Vocal Music, and Drama – will crossover with one another quite a bit over the course of the school year.
Each student also created a specific Performing Arts “goal” for the year. They wrote down their individual goal on an index card, folded and sealed it, and will have a chance to revisit it halfway through the school year and again at the very end of the year. This goal won’t be shared with any other students or teachers until the last day of Performing Arts class in May. Our hope is that everyone will have ended the 2018-2019 school year feeling empowered by their experiences in Performing Arts!
Today in seventh grade advisory, we did some team building activities. We started out small, learning new things about each other along the way before taking on the most challenging activity…The Human Knot! In my ten years of doing this activity, only one group has managed to untie the knot. Success requires patience, communication, cooperation and focus. I challenged the group to complete this task slowly and to work together.
First we gathered as a group and linked hands to form a human knot. Once locked together, they hesitated and worried that they couldn’t undo the knot. And then they were off! As they worked through their first attempt, they found themselves almost to the end but were unable to break the chain. Instead of giving up, they dropped hands and re-formed the knot and started over. Their second attempt proved to still be difficult…but they got closer! The third time was the charm.
It was amazing to see every single person in the room with such intense focus and determination to figure it out. Afterwards, we talked about how this activity relates to real life. Working together as a group, we proved that we could complete the challenge. Bravo, 7th Grade!
On June 7th, the Unquowa School showcased a conceptual art show, Voices of Change, at Robert Valle Designs in Bridgeport’s Arcade Mall featuring exemplary works from 18 seventh and eighth-grade students. As a final collaborative humanities and art project, students were challenged with the opportunity to connect art and a personally relevant social issue. The powerful student work was the result of a trimester long interdisciplinary project. Additionally, it was the culmination of historical, analytical, and creative thinking skills cultivated by our two departments throughout the year, as our students have been analyzing conceptual art in the field starting last fall in New York City and in the spring at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
Unquowa’s humanities program is founded on the premise that middle school students can think critically and creatively about the world around them, and that they can meaningfully participate in the global dialogue. Students make meaning by studying global culture and participating in it. In visual arts, students are tasked with using artistic principles and media to elicit a truth about themselves or their world. This collaboration between the arts and humanities is a natural vehicle for students to pursue these rich tasks and contribute to the larger conversation in an authentic way.
Voices of Change featured works that discussed issues such as school gun violence, income inequality, ecological issues, teen suicide, and racial bias. With over 90 guests in attendance, students and faculty engaged in meaningful conversations about the art and the topics they presented. Art is a powerful and empowering conduit of empathy, and we, the upper school art and humanities faculty, are so proud of the hard work and thought that students put into this project.
The gates of Wonka’s factory are now closed, but our 6th-8th grade cast and crew members are still “unpacking” a wonderful experience after our Musical Theatre Project unit in Performing Arts concluded last week with two fabulous performances of “Willy Wonka Jr.” As members of a performing ensemble, all students have been learning that it is important to reflect upon their participation and progress in the spring musical. Through written responses, students shared how they felt they grew as a performer (and person) by being on stage together. In addition, students were asked to share their theatrical design projects, which were also a component of the Musical Theatre Project. Students did graphic renderings and some hand-drawn images depicting their own individual set, costume, and prop designs for the show’s specific characters and/or scenes. We are truly proud of the entire cast and crew’s dedication to this exciting project.
I am so extremely proud of the cast and crew of this years Spring Musical Project, Willy Wonka Jr!
Over the course of the last few months, students in performing arts have been learning all about musical theater and what goes into creating a production. This unit started with research about how the genre of musical theater came to be. After this, students were asked to choose and pitch a show suggestion. This allowed students to see through the eyes of a director how a show is chosen. We had to think about the age of our actors, the age of our audience, the difficulty of the show, how many roles the show had for actors, and much more. When the day came to announce the Spring Musical, the students were given tiny bars of chocolate as their clue. They knew right away we would be learning the show Willy Wonka. Students dove right in learning the music. Soon it was time to add choreography and begin blocking scenes. In addition to being in the cast or crew of the show, students also got a chance to be costume and set designers. Each student created either a costume plot, or a stage design for a scene in the show. It was amazing to see their wonderful and creative ideas! This process has been one of hard work, fun, and growth. Our final show ended with wonderful golden confetti raining down on our actors as they took their final bows. Although it seemed to end so quickly, this show will be in the memories of our students and audience for a lifetime.