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State of the Arts

Educators have long recognized the value of music, art, drama and writing for students' creative development and academic success. Yet the arts remain squeezed by tight budgets and test-driven performance standards. This series highlights efforts to protect and promote school arts programs.

Giving Voice to Children

Most elementary students have never attended an opera. Coit Creative Arts Academy fourth- and fifth-grade students have created, produced and performed one. The project, done in partnership with Opera Grand Rapids Children's Opera, was led by the Creative Connections arts...

Rocking Out with Strings, Awesomely

Mitchell Evink couldn't seem to help playing air cello as he sat on the floor of the band room and watched a video featuring the high school's rock fusion orchestra. As air cello goes, Mitchell's playing was pretty "lit," as...

Drama’s back, and students are ready to act

After five years without a program and, now, with a renovated auditorium, a stockpile of props pulled from storage and two enthusiastic new hires, Kelloggsville High School theater has been resurrected...

‘They Learn by Music’

A drum beat echoes down the halls of Sparta's Appleview Elementary. The source: a boisterous bunch of musicians keeping a beat and dancing to the rhythm. Students with cognitive impairments from across the district are stepping in line with Artists Creating...

‘From absolutely nothing to this full production’

It was three months before the spring play. There was no script and no plot, just the shadow of personalities students would soon embody as their own creations...

Make Art, Then Prosper

When Tricia Erickson was a little girl, her mother found her drawing pictures of Yogi Bear and his cartoon friends Tricia watched on TV. Struck by how accurate the drawings were, her mom asked, “You drew these from figures...

Haunting photo of ‘classy’ young woman takes top prize in Congressional competition

Nick Ensing’s photo “Classy,” taken of his good friend Mariah Jennings, was named grand prize winner and will hang in the U.S. Capitol for a year

Adding Sugar to Education’s Cake

As a young mother new to the district in the early 1970s, Candace Hinshaw remembers hearing about a magazine sale at Pine Ridge Elementary to raise money to bring in outside performers. "They brought in an individual who was doing...

Young actor headed to Big Apple stage

Eric Liu qualified for a national musical theater competition by being named Best Leading Actor in the state of Michigan at the Sutton Foster Ovation Awards at the Wharton Center in East Lansing...

Art Walk Homage to Award-winning Artists

At Century Park Learning Center, a riot of color swirling like a Chihuly tangle of glass sprouted all over the school. The inspiration for students: picture book illustrations found in Caldecott winners. Rainbow-beaked birds like toucans dangled overhead, like Richard...

She chose music over medicine, and her students are glad she did

Wendy Tenney Tenney is one of 10 Michigan educators who were named as 2018-19 Regional Teachers of the Year...

Students Explore Hip-Hop as ‘Something that You Live’

Matthew Duncan lightly shakes a can of spray paint and, like the serious aerosol artist he is, deftly sprays an immaculate orange “o” on a canvas. And so begins a lesson on graffiti – or more properly called “writing,” he...

Students learn skills the fun way: making music

A group of Alto Elementary students took part in 10 one-hour sessions with a music therapist at the Franciscan Life Process Center, thanks to a grant from the Lowell Education Foundation...

The Play’s the Thing; So’s the Writing

A lengthy short story from the mind of Eliot King comes to life onstage in a powerful pantomime by Marissa Schutter and Donovan Fletcher. A science-fiction tale written by Hailee Cederquist becomes a humorous domestic skit about channel-surfing by...

Students express selves through words, drawings, and their own hands

Susan Langford’s studio art students made old-fashioned casts of their hands. They posed them to convey one or more concepts, then added their own drawing and words. The results were profound...

Settling Conflict by Settling Minds with Connective Art

With colorful petals radiating from a bright orange center, the mandala Circle of Art rug represents the universe and all its connectivity. For members of the high school's National Art Honor Society, it's also a way of connecting with a...
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