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!
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates changed the course of history by challenging the status-quo, pushing his students to ask the difficult questions to find true knowledge. The 6th-grade Humanities students have spent this school year examining how ancient cultures shaped the modern world we live in today, and our most recent travels through time whisked us across the Mediterranean from ancient Egypt to Greece. The students explored how geography separated the people, making each Greek city-state a unique civilization, and how the competition among them was the driving force behind the innovations in government, military, philosophy, and the arts that scholars cite as Greece’s great legacy. As a class, we read Greek mythology, which offers a glimpse into the people of the time’s spiritual beliefs and understanding of nature. Furthermore, the students completed a research project on a mythological character, some demigod and some beast. As extra credit, some students even dressed as their characters!
As a culminating assignment, our 6th-grade scholars are completing a five-paragraph essay responding to a document-based question on what they believe are ancient Greece’s most innovative contributions to Western civilization. In the spirit of Socrates, we know there isn’t one answer, but a little argument couldn’t hurt, right?
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.
Working together in teams, students in grades three through six have all been part of a project to design and build a walk-in camera obscura in the Makerspace.
Children have been exposed to screens throughout their lives and this opportunity to step back in time and reflect on the projected image has been an interesting challenge. Students are so used to seeing images projected that it seems almost obvious to them that light through a hole would produce one. It turns out it is rare to have a projected image occur by simply focusing light through an aperture. The students have eagerly explored the mechanics of how this seemingly magical and simultaneously obvious phenomenon works.
Using their formidable skills with hammers, nails, saws, screws and power drills they designed and built this masterpiece. As always, duct tape, drop clothes, trash bags, paint and staple guns also played a role.
This photo sequence is of 1) the kindergarten class being shown the camera and its aperture, 2) gathering inside for a demonstration and 3) Riley jumping outside in front of the aperture so that his image could be projected on the (then closed) back flap. His classmates were delighted and amazed to see him projected on the back flap!
Their functioning prototype has taught them about light, vision, projections, cameras, and more. We all love this project and look forward to seeing where it goes next … perhaps a larger permanent installation!