| Coordinator of Instructional Technology for Clovis Municipal Schools, Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy writes an education column, published weekly by the Eastern New Mexico News and featured on www.clovis-schools.org.
DRAMA IN THE SCHOOLS
by Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy
October 13, 2017
Expect more drama in our schools this year than in the past. Happily, it’s the good kind.
Among our eleven elementary schools is the Arts Academy at Bella Vista (AABV), an arts-infused K-5th magnet school whose primary focus is “to enhance academic learning through use of arts teaching tools as a learning methodology.”
AABV is filled with fine arts activities infused into the regular curriculum, and there is a palpable sense of joy present. At the Arts Academy all students are given the opportunity to participate in the wide-ranging variety of programs offered.
Taking advantage of a recent opportunity to chat with AABV’s principal, Shelly Norris, I learned about some new opportunities that will extend to our other elementaries.
According to Norris, some years ago, the Arts Academy decided to revisit and balance their arts offerings to incorporate more theatre into the mix. Since then, AABV has produced and performed two major productions a year: Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” in late fall and a children’s opera (varies each year) in the spring; these, in addition to the regularly integrated arts activities in the curriculum.
To supplement their theatrical endeavors to comply with their goals, they also invited the Missoula Children’s Theatre group (MCT), which proved to be an enormous success. According to Norris, the MCT folks audition students, rehearse, and perform an entire production within a week. They are completely self-contained, bringing everything needed: costumes, sets, makeup, props, and any other theatrical gear. The Missoula group is designed to not be disruptive for the school day and can perform in any setting, from school cafeterias to auditoriums. Auditions take place in the morning, and rehearsals are every afternoon after school with the performance at the week’s end. Norris said 67 students at AABV got parts, and described the distinct benefit of auditioning for parties completely objective. Students with parts received plastic binders with their scripts, which they proudly carried everywhere. “The kids loved it and practically learned their parts overnight!” she continued.
The experience was so enriching that the district’s Fine Arts Committee (Shelly Norris, Joe Strickland, Brandon Boerio, Sharna Johnson, and Sara Hennessy) decided to use some of the state-funded fine arts grant to extend the experience to our other elementary schools throughout this school year. Productions will include: Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver’s Travels, The Wiz of the West, Snow White, and Treasure Island.
More drama at our schools? Bring it on.