Arts Enhancement for MCPS Students
The differences between Arts Enhancement and Arts Integration can be illustrated through the qualities of frozen treats; the Banana Split and Smoothie analogy can help c
larify the traits of each. Consider a banana split: the mounds of ice cream and that ruby red cherry are the tasty toppings atop the bananas of content. Of course science bananas can be consumed apart from the sweet arts toppings, but that ice cream can make the fruit more tempting. In an arts integration smoothie, however, the science bananas are put in the high power blender with the arts yogurt and chocolate. Each ingredient is an important part of the smoothie, and they cannot be separated.
Those healthy arts integration smoothies are the main offering of SPARK! Programming, but sometimes a sweet serving of Arts Enhancement is just the ticket to pique kids' appetite for the arts.
In Missoula, arts abound, and many families take advantage of wonderful performances and galleries regularly. There are, however, kids in our community who might never enter an art museum, concert hall, or theatre outside of the school day. SPARK! partners with Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) Fine Arts and local arts organizations to provide amazing arts opportunities that enhance the educational experience for ALL students.
During the 2016-2017 school year, each K-8 grade level in MCPS schools had access to an Arts Enhancement opportunity.
The Missoula Monster Project was a raging success for the second year in conjunction with the ZACC. Local artists create a work inspired by Kindergarten artist creations from three elementary schools each year on a rotating basis. Adult artists are busy crafting creatures for the September 2017 show right now!
Every First Grade classroom in MCPS had a visit from The Drum Brothers during the spring. During the one-hour visit, first grade students learned about music and African culture through singing, drumming, and dancing. "This was THE BEST performance/workshop I've EVER had for first graders!" a first grade teacher commented, "They were enthralled the entire hour!"
Second grade students witnessed folk tales that they were learning about in class come to life on stage during a Missoula Children's Theatre performance. When a student was asked about her favorite part of the play on her way out of the theatre, she replied, "Every single minute! It was all my favorite!" A fun adaptation of the Cinderella story is on tap for this fall.
Third grade students got a glimpse of the art of filmmaking during the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Students viewed two clips of documentaries focused on using different types of observation to explore the world, and they learned how filmmakers and artists use observation in their work. "This is my first time screening it to a bunch of third graders. It was electric," said Jake Oelman, the director and producer of the film Learning to See: The World of Insects. Oelman was delighted by the curiosity and enthusiasm displayed by the students. Almost every arm in the theater shot up when it was time for questions.
Fourth grade students enjoyed the beautiful music of The Missoula Symphony, a long held tradition that students eagerly anticipate. The symphony performance coincides with when the students will be selecting their orchestra instruments, so they love to see them all in action.
Fifth grade students get a full day touring the Missoula Arts Museum and creating their own art works. This year, they were able to touch and manipulate interactive art pieces created by Stephen Glueckert. Teachers commented that the museum experience is "a great balance of interaction, instruction, and lecture, and that this year's galleries were, "totally fascinating for the kids!"
Dancers put movement to climate science for the sixth grade experience with CoMotion Dance Project at the University of Montana. Teachers applauded the strong connection to the sixth grade science curriculum, while kids were captivated with the music, movement, and media. At the close of the show, one student was overheard saying, "Keep clapping! Maybe they'll come out and perform some more!"
The Montana Repertory Theatre brought a live, original show, "Bronte to the Future," to Middle School students. Seventh grader
s learned about literature and theatre through the show, which brought classic characters into modern times. Students loved the comedic puppetry and posed great questions to the cast and crew about the rehearsal process and technical theatre elements.
Eighth grade MCPS students were invited to a special performance during the Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival at the University of Montana. Students who attended witnessed musical mastery by top jazz artists.
The goal of SPARK! and MCPS Fine Arts is to provide an amazing quality arts experience for every student at every grade level. The 2016-2017 Arts Enhancement programming was a delicious smorgasbord of art forms and styles, and we look forward to the banana split moments of the upcoming year.