Creative expression is an integral and essential part of human development. Robust opportunities to perform and create - in the visual arts, music and theater - encourage students to become creative problem-solvers, divergent thinkers, and positive risk-takers (course descriptions follow).
Through the experience of giving and receiving feedback, aiming for precision, and patiently committing to a process, students develop skills and behaviors that contribute to resilience and individual wellness. In addition to acquiring technical expertise, they become more perceptive and understanding, which enhances all of their academic and personal pursuits. Lastly, students develop cultural competence by appreciating the role of the arts in our heritage and cultures - individually, in community, and globally.
This introductory drama course exposes students to the vast world of theater. Topics covered include script work, improvisation, movement, and vocal work. Students are encouraged to work and think outside of their comfort zone to collaborate and create as a team. This class provides a foundation for more intermediate work in public speaking, writing and criticism offered in grade 7.
The study of drama in grade 8 further develops the skills and experiences acquired in grades 6 and 7. Students have some exposure to the great history of world drama through hands-on study. Styles covered might range from Balinese Puppet Theater to Italian Commedia Del’Arte. Through active creation of theater in playmaking, students are encouraged to take creative risks, collaborate, and find their "voice.” Theater is used as an outlet for students to express their worldview. During this class, students combine their knowledge of play making, public speaking, writing, collaboration, constructive criticism, and technical theater to make a short original piece. This work prepares them for further study at the high school level, as well as future classroom presentations.
In grade 6 music, students begin to develop skills in note reading, rhythm, and piano; they also start to explore their voices. Students work together to explore collaborative music using world music and Orff music prototypes. In addition to this general music class, each student begins lessons in his choice of instrument (string, wind, or percussion) or chorus. These small group lessons meet weekly, allowing students to develop as individual musicians, both in solo and in ensemble work.
In seventh grade, students continue to develop skills in note reading and rhythm. They also begin guitar instruction and continue to develop their voices. In addition, students collaborate in using music technology and explore the wide variety of American music. All students continue their small group lessons on their chosen instrument or voice and join the grade 7 and 8 band, orchestra, or chorus. These ensembles work on a more advanced repertoire and offer time and guidance for students to further strengthen and develop their skills. To help students connect further to the grade level theme of servant leadership, students explore ways to inspire and connect with others through their music and performances.
Using the skills learned in grades 6 and 7, students work collaboratively to advance their music skills and compositions, further developing their knowledge of world music. Using more advanced music technology tools, students have the opportunity to hone their skills and work together to create major works and new music. Students also gain exposure to the High School music program with opportunities to sing and play with the High School ensembles. An essential outcome of the eighth grade music course is to further promote cultural understanding and shared experience through the study of music and world heritage.
The Middle School band program provides students the opportunity to learn a wind or percussion instrument, collaborate with their peers, and perform in concert. In the course of three years of band, students progress through a wide range of repertoire and work to sharpen their individual technique. Specific skills include tone production, growth of instrumental techniques and good ensemble performance skills. Ear training is an important part of this process. Students meet twice weekly once for small group instruction and once for large ensemble rehearsal.
The Middle School strings program provides students the opportunity to learn violin, viola, cello or string bass; collaborate with their peers; and perform in concert. In the course of three years of string study, students progress through a wide range of repertoire and work to sharpen their individual technique, including correct posture, left and right hand set-up, intonation, beginning shifting and position work, and beginning vibrato. Ear training is an important part of this process. Students meet twice weekly, once for small group instruction and once for large ensemble rehearsal.
The Middle School choral program provides students the opportunity to develop their voices, working individually on vocal technique, collaborating with peers, and performing in concert. Over three years of study, students progress through a wide range of music including folk songs from the world repertoire, classical music, jazz and pop songs, and sacred music. Teachers’ commitment to vocal development pays particular attention to the changing voice, keeping singers active and singing through that change. Students meet twice weekly, once for small group instruction and once for large ensemble rehearsal.
The focus of this course is to develop foundational studio art skills. Students are introduced to the principles and elements of design using a variety of two- and three-dimensional materials, media, and genres. This experience will provide a framework for the students to develop artistic confidence in visual, verbal and oral expression. Sixth graders begin to develop their visual vocabulary and start to find their own voices. As their confidence in the use of tools, techniques and materials develops, their individual visual expression and problem solving skills become more creative and imaginative.
Studio arts in seventh grade find the students learning to develop their own ideas for creative risk taking and problem solving. Critical-thinking skills are encouraged to help develop visual communication and production skills. Further development of craftsmanship and technique are integral to the learning process and the progression of the discipline. In addition, students explore art history and cultural connections in the process of their art making.
Eighth grade art students create two- and three-dimensional works of art by applying previously learned concepts of design. An exploration of art history, cultural connections, art vocabulary, aesthetics and the process of art criticism are essential concepts of this course. Opportunities to think creatively and work collaboratively are an integral part of this class.