Arts programming is thriving at Community School. Every day, in my classroom and throughout the school, I see students exploring their creativity—whether through filmmaking, painting, starting a guitar club, or creating architectural drawings.
Students in the Upper School have the opportunity to fulfill the requirement of three terms in the creative arts by taking courses in the Visual Arts, Music, and/or Performing Arts. Students who have a real passion for the creative arts can join the Creative Arts Academy (CAA), which offers programming for students to pursue an in-depth exploration of their interest in the visual, performing, or music arts. CAA students must fulfill additional academic and co-curricular requirements beyond the basic Upper School curriculum. In order to achieve a Certificate of Completion, seniors must produce a culminating performance or exhibit, which is presented during an evening event prior to spring break.
The interest among Community School students for the CAA has made clear that the program is answering a call for more robust and advanced arts programming. In our second year, we anticipate five-to-seven seniors will present final CAA projects during our Creative Arts Evening in March and receive a CAA Certificate of Completion at the All-School Awards Ceremony in June. As we celebrate these graduates, we look forward to creating many more opportunities for students to pursue their passion for the arts in years to come.
- Anne Aganon, Art Department Chair and Co-Director of the Creative Arts Academy
Update from Anne Aganon, Art Department Chair
Students continue to have the option to take Studio Art, Ceramics, Photography, and History of the Creative Arts. Last year, a new course in Architectural Drafting and Design was added to the curriculum, taught by Rachel Aanestad ‘94. Due to the popularity of a recent Book Altering project in the Studio Art course, more three dimensional projects are in the works in that class.
Student Spotlight: Miren Sanchez-duPont ’18
Senior Miren Sanchez-du Pont will graduate from Community School this spring having fully explored the visual arts curriculum in the Upper School. With a passion for conveying the natural landscape and animal life, Miren has created an impressive body of work, which reflects her personal interpretations of the natural world and her love for the outdoors. Here, Miren shares some insight into her journey in the arts at Community School.
View a slideshow of Miren's work below, and read an interview with the artist here.
Update from Kevin Wade, Upper School Theater Faculty and Co-Director of the Creative Arts Academy
Course offerings for the performing arts are changing and growing in exciting ways. Due to the presence of a strong contingent of talented and dedicated young actors in the Upper School, I decided to offer an Advanced Acting class this term. This class utilizes a sort of hybrid technique, pulling from many disparate acting pedagogies. We’re incorporating everything from the intense physical style of Tadashi Suzuki (the pioneer of a revolutionary contemporary Japanese acting technique) to the Practical Aesthetics technique of David Mamet and William H. Macy. As a prerequisite for this course, students must have already taken either Intro to Acting or Script Analysis and Solo Performance. Having a common vocabulary and a strong foundation from their previous classes has allowed these students to immediately begin collaborations on challenging material. We’re currently working on scenes from Will Eno’s Middletown, which is a contemporary revision of Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Though the material is tough, the actors are jumping in with both feet. We hope to present some cuts of these scenes for the student body at an assembly down the line.
It’s an inspiration to see these young actors tackle this material. In their scenes, Annabel Webster, Jasper Mott, Kai Younger, and Anik Zarkos are navigating what it means to be lost and hurting, but open and loving at the same time. Minori Iguchi is playing an astronaut in zero-gravity, gazing down at earth from orbit, attempting to describe to Ground Control (Anik Zarkos) the feeling of absolute awe and the renewed sense of purpose one gets from such a view. At the end of the scene, after making every effort to describe to Ground Control this incredible feeling, she says, “I can’t tell you what this is like. Over.” Then we see her mouth the words, “Maybe everyone knows exactly what this is like.” Will Eno is serving up truth, wonder, and finding inspiration in both the minute and the cosmic. Maybe everyone knows exactly what this is like. I can’t wait to see where these talented actors take these scenes.
Student Spotlight: Annabel Webster '18
Senior Annabel Webster (left) is an invaluable member of our creative arts family at Community School. She is a gifted actor and singer and is dedicated to the performing arts. She takes it upon herself to help others, and to bring them up through her passion for theater. She seeks out opportunities to aid cast members and fellow students, and she always makes sure inclusivity and kindness are at the forefront of the conversation. Read an interview with Annabel here!
Upcoming Events: Our Town
This spring (February 22 - 24) our Upper School drama program will be performing Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. As a theater artist, I believe this is a play that everyone should engage with at some point in their lives. Widely considered to be a turning point in American theater, Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize winning drama is a timeless treasure. On the stage, we typically have three walls, and an invisible fourth one inside the proscenium. On the other side of the fourth wall sits the audience, comfortable in their seats, separate from the story unfolding before them. Wilder’s play shatters that fourth wall, and engages the audience directly with the actors. Through this device, Wilder confronts the idea that, well...this is a play, and we’re not going to pretend that it’s real. He strips away all the artifice of theater, and tells us a pure story of love, loss, hope and the beauty of everyday life. Our production, done in contemporary dress with a simple set, will be sure to have us all reflecting on our own lives and wondering how we can be kinder, more inclusive, and more generous to those around us.
Update from Brad Hershey, Upper School Music Faculty
The music curriculum in the Upper School this fall and winter has included Ukulele and Guitar, Songwriting & Music Technology, a String Ensemble class, wherein students play violin, viola, and cello, and a new Choir elective. The recording studio has seen quite a bit of activity recently, as music students have pursued songwriting and have recorded original music and classes outside the Music Department have used the recording and sound resources. Last term, Spanish students spent time in the studio recording public service announcements related to important health topics, which were played on local radio throughout December.
As we look ahead to spring, graduating seniors who are members of the CAA will be preparing for their final recitals, which will be presented to the community at the CAA night on March 8.
Music Student Spotlight: Hunter Diehl '19 and Guitar Club
On December 15, students across Community School’s three divisions gathered in the gym to participate in the annual Holiday Sing-A-Long. Upper School guitar students participated again this year, offering a rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Junior Hunter Diehl played in the performance and says, “the song brought holiday spirit to the gathering. It evokes so many childhood memories for me, and it was a fun event.” Learn more about Hunter's initiative to form a guitar club here.
STAY TUNED: UPCOMING ARTS EVENTS IN THE UPPER SCHOOL
Mark your calendars for the evening of March 8, when graduating seniors in the Creative Arts Academy will present their culminating projects in their chosen discipline of music, performing arts, or visual arts. The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m., with appetizers and beverages in the Theatre foyer; at 6:00 p.m., attendees will proceed to the Theatre for performances. We hope to see you there to help us celebrate the creativity and passion of our CAA students!
SHOW DON'T TELL
A new video highlights arts across divisions at Community School. Check it out!