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Enrichment: Not a lost art at Ware

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Second-grader Kade Havens putting finishing touches on his handmade sculpture from 100% recyclable materials.  (photos by Sara Harris)
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Seventh-grader Ellen Wilson works on her terra cotta “pinch pot.”
Last week Ware Academy held an Artists In-Residency Enrichment Program for the entire week.

In January of previous years, the school hosted the Missoula Children’s Theatre for an entire week as a creative “mini-mester” for its students. This was in addition to the school’s current fine and performing arts classes, which now includes art, music, chorus, dance, handbells and violin.

The Missoula Program was very successful; however, could only utilize a little over 50% of the student body. The enrichment week was so successful because it exposed all students to various art forms and creative experiences outside their normal co-curricular classes. Every child in grades PK-8 participated.

The week was planned and choreographed by Kris Turner, Ware Academy’s director of the fine and performing arts and school dance teacher, as well as a performer with Gravity Optional Dance Company in Williamsburg.

The school hosted several professional artists from local surrounding counties, Richmond and Williamsburg.  The artists taught their art from under an umbrella of common themes such as conservation, recycling and preserving the Chesapeake Bay, and were woven in to all of the children’s projects.

Every afternoon each grade rotated to different classes, at least three per day, where various art forms were taught. Each grade experienced an art form at least once. The list of art classes and instructors was impressive. It included:

  • Sculptures in Louise Nevelson Style, taught by Beth Miller, professional sculptor and instructor from Bay School of the Arts in Mathews. The students used various recyclable materials, from plastic containers to used wire, to create hand-made sculptures honoring the style of the late Louise Nevelson (1899-1988).
  • Soft Sculptures, taught by Jenny McMurtrie, professional whimsical dog artist, children’s photographer and former middle school art teacher from Deltaville. The students crafted monsters out of recycled garments, buttons and string.
  • Landscape Art with Acrylic Paint, taught by Timothy Hale, professional landscape artist from Gloucester whose works can be seen in local galleries, restaurants and businesses. The students painted their own original landscapes with acrylic paint.
  • Transfer Art, taught by Paula Jasinski, Virginia program manager for NOAA. The students painted various water scenes on paper and then transferred them to cloth swatches. Each swatch was then sown together into one large “Ware Academy Protect the Bay Quilt.”
  • Terracotta Pottery, taught by Tasha McKelvey, professional potter and artist from Richmond. McKelvey showed the students how to make handmade “pinch pots” out of terra cotta clay.
  • Creative Movement, taught by Teresa Bracken, a professional dancer and instructor with Diggs School of Dance in Gloucester and Mathews. Bracken taught the students to move their bodies in beautiful and creative ways to using various dance methods and music styles.
  • Hip Hop Dance, taught by Lauren Morris, a professional dancer from Regency Dance Center in Richmond and faculty member at William and Mary’s Dance Department. Morris showed the students how to rock, pop and oscillate to various hip hop beats and routines.

The art enrichment program also pulled from the talent and experience of Ware Academy’s own faculty and staff:

  • Conservation Art, taught by Linda Brent, Ware Academy art teacher for over 10 years. The students made:  wallets out of duck tape and Capri Sun pouches; flower sculptures from recycled cups; and handmade jewelry from recycled washers and beads.
  • Watercolors with “Mola Art” designs, taught by Sharon Shipley, Ware Spanish teacher. Molas are designs created by the Cuna Indians of Panama in Central America.  The Cuna Indian women selected an animal or figure to serve as the central image and then decorated around it.  The students selected an animal, insect or plant, and painted it with watercolors.  Then, they put two contrasting borders around their animal or plant design and decorated their Mola with colorful Cuna Indian designs. 
  • Drama, taught by Ed Gardiner, 8th-grade science teacher, and Andy “Coach” Morgan, director of athletics at Ware. The students learned acting and leadership skills through the art of improvisation by performing exercises and skits by Drama Kid International in front of their peers.
  • Yoga, taught by Nicolle Morgan, director of advancement for Ware Academy and certified yoga instructor. In the class students learned basic yoga poses, otherwise known as “asanas,” and a brief history about this ancient practice. They were also led through the relaxation method of “shavasana,” which is a practice done at the end of yoga classes across the world.
  • Songwriting, taught by Aaron Ward, Ware Academy’s music, choir and handbell instructor, as well as a performer for the Courthouse Players and director of the Rappahannock District Youth Choir.

The entire week documented by freelance professional photographer, Sara Harris of Hayes.

“The Arts are a part of our mission to educate the whole child and to provide a dynamic, enriching school experience to every student at Ware,” said Nicolle Morgan. “Research shows that children who are able to learn a type of art form perform better in their core curricular classes. Ware Academy stands behind its Fine and Performing Arts Program and we will do whatever it takes to sustain the level of offerings in the current economic conditions.”

posted 02.02.2010

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