December 1


No. 4

The language of music
thinking like a musician
Winter Concert is this Thursday!

A magical night is soon upon us.  Winter Concert is in two days, this Thursday the 10th, 6 pm at Gig Harbor High School (students to arrive by 5:45 in the band room).  You don't want to miss it.  Our talented and enthusiastic students of music will be performing at their best.  Expect great entertainment, singing, dancing, and performing.  It is the launch of the holiday season.  
In this "Tell Our Story" newsletter, Amanda interviewed the teacher that inspires magical performances from our children, Lynn Swanson. Enjoy! 

The most magical night of the year - Winter Concert at GHA
Music is a language that Lynn Swanson speaks fluently.  As head of the Gig Harbor Academy music program, she prides herself on this language being taught to the children in preschool, as early as age two, 
through the building blocks of steady beat and sense of pitch.                     
Lynn Swanson and family
"By the time they reach Kindergarten, they are ready to hit the ground running."

Anyone that has ever attended a GHA music show can attest to this.  Both the younger and older grades shine in performances that far surpass what one would expect at a school show, resulting in a truly ente rtaining
 evening.  But entertainment is never her only goal.  Mrs. Swanson chooses musical arrangements that are educational and include a historical perspective.  "There is real musical value to what we're doing here," she explains, illustrating this statement by pointing out the Jazz
numbers in last year's show.  "It is important to me that the children develop skills they didn't have before the show and become critical thinking musicians." 
This musical maturity is exhibited in the ensemble pieces, where the students often sing two and three part rounds.  The advancing skills and experience of musical collaboration leads to deeper lessons and develops the students' emotional side, explains Mrs. Swanson.  "It's in that moment, when the hairs on their arms stand up and you know they are feeling the music.  It's magic when the music touches their hearts."

Seeing the growth of the students over the last six years she has run the program motivates Mrs. Swanson to continue aiming higher.  "Every day, I want the kids who
come to my class to experience five things:  singing, reading music, listening to music, moving their bodies and playing an instrument."  Using funds raised by the school community, she plans to further develop the music program by increasing the number of classroom instruments and manipulative items such as streamers and scarves.  "I want the music in their bodies to develop a complete sense of beat, rhythm and pitch."

When they leave GHA, students have completed a wide range of musical instruction, along with two years experience reading music and playing recorders.  It's a solid foundation of musical literacy.  And, now that her first round of GHA students have graduated and gone on to middle school band programs, it's something she often gets feedback about from other musical directors in the district.  "My former students are at the top of the pack, and it's nice to know I played a part in that," she says proudly.  "Giving my students the tools to successfully enjoy a music-filled future...that's the legacy.  That's why I do this."

Author - Amanda Marley-Clarke, Board of Directors

Great things going on around campus
We're asking students and staff for input

Thank you so much to all of you who have given early in our annual project fund. We are currently at $9,675 and doing well just one month into the campaign.  

Although there are many project ideas already on the list, we have asked staff and students to brainstorm a list of projects they think would be a great contribution to our campus. One of these projects will be chosen and funded by this year's campaign.   The choice will ultimately be made by the Head of School based on feasibility and need.  

Look for the winning ideas on Annual Project Fund posters displayed around campus (students vote for the best idea in their class) .

There are already a few projects the head and board have discussed as needs: 
  • New lighting and sign for our driveway (the utility company removed our streetlight, and the dark winter mornings are challenging for early arriving child care students).  
  • Updating science curriculum materials for all classes. 
  • Freshening up our classrooms with new paint and flooring. 
We'll keep adding to the list and take things on as we can fund them.  The work we do now will benefit our current students immediately and prepare the school for generations to come. 

In the meantime, we thank all of you that give every day in so many ways:  

To the bake sale volunteers; the Molina family's wreath sale contribution; to the SFN (Social Family Network) members that look after our teachers and run our social family events; to the in-class volunteer parents, the visiting family members and friends that come to read, to talk or to generally help in our classrooms; to the parents that weed the gardens, maintain the trails and help set up the greenhouse. To staff members who apply the band-aids, cheer on the presentations, and greet each student with a smile.  To the board members and the head of school who serve to set the strategy that keeps GHA strong in our community and prepares for the children to come.  

Our community makes GHA a great place to be.  I'm grateful to have found a group of like minded people who care so much and teach by example.  We nurture thinkers, leaders and philanthropists of this next generation.  

This week, notes hang sweetly in the air from winter carols, and laughter rings through the hallways with scenes acted out for our winter concert.  I look forward to seeing all the smiling faces on Thursday as the children once again sing and dance their way into our hearts and form the memories we all cherish.  
See you there. 

Julie Dugan
Annual Project Fund Chair
Board of Directors

Please consider contributing to this next phase of Gig Harbor Academy, where we're taking on the projects that add dimension to this wonderful school for our current students and the students to come.  
Any donation, large or small, is a treasured seed.  
We most sincerely thank you for your consideration. 

To Donate - click here to go the Annual Project Fund page on our website!
To find out more contact:

  • Classrooms with 100% participation will be thrown a thank you party in their classroom.
  • Donors of $1,000 and over will once again be invited to a thank you reception.
  • When staff reaches 100% we'll deliver them their favorite morning beverage in class.