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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...

Students Jam On, with Plenty of Moxie

Forest Hills Eastern High orchestra students joined forces recently with The Moxie Strings for a night of upbeat contemporary music. But before they did, they spent time jamming together at school. Moxies violinist Diana Ladio and Alison Lynn on electric...
Art teacher Amber Warren shows, from left, Alexiana Ochoa and Alexis Odelin, how to make a name monster

Necessity, Not Luxury

Art teacher Amber Warren sees the difference in students who have had experience in art and those who haven't. The latter have little faith in their artistic abilities, she said. "They are not confident." After offering art at reduced levels...

Speaking Poetry Helps Students Share their Hearts

Katie Mitchell could have picked from a range of interesting topics to share with classmates, but she choose the one closest to her heart. The Crossroads Middle School eighth-grader picked tragedy. As part of a spoken-word poetry workshop held at the...

‘Holy hot course, Batman!’

Students at Wyoming High School dig into graphic novels as a way to scratch their itch for good stories combined with eye-catching art...

Revived Program Attracts Student Artists, Musicians

From imaginative paintings and sculptures to soothing songs and a silky sax solo, Union High and Westwood Middle school students recently shared their artistic talents at the third annual Westside Celebration of the Arts. The evening featured student artwork that...
Linda Nelson, violinist with the Grand Rapids Symphony, shows Meeah Fisher how to hold a bow

Students Play a Happy Tune with Symphony Pros

The three strings musicians who visited Pine Island Elementary this week didn't have to do a whole song and dance to hold the attention of teacher Wendy Hawes' fourth-graders. The songs were enough. Jonathan Copsey's hand shot up during the...

‘You Find Yourself Striving to be Greater at Something’

Noah Miller and Heather Price, both 2016 district graduates, are members of the Western Michigan University Marching Bronco Band and got to play at the Cotton Bowl game on Jan. 2. Here's what they had to say about what...

On fire for choir

When one elementary music teacher had a little extra time in her schedule, she knew there was only one thing to do: start a school choir...

Playing in Tune with Giving Hearts

Elizabeth Catlin tentatively plucked a few notes on a violin after eighth-graders McKenzie Watkoski and Presley Avery showed her how. The she gamely played along with a blues tune played by the student orchestra, which had come to entertain...

Portraying History Through Art

Freshman Daniel Zawodny can tell you about a courtyard confrontation between artistic rivals Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. And while freshman Brock Sweezie admits he’s more into modern art than that of the Renaissance, he still knows about the work...

‘World-Class’ Band Program Thrives on Community Support

Drive down 36th Street SW between Buchanan and Division on a fall day, and the sound of trumpets, trombones, clarinets, flutes and drums fills the air. As it does every year on the field outside Godwin Heights High School,...

Catch a falling star & put it in your heart

In a visit to Valley View Elementary School, Patricia Polacco, the award-winning author of over 100 children’s books, told students a true story about wishing on a falling star -- or wishing for a better world...

Art Award Tradition Continues for 35th Year of Excellence

Northview High School sophomore Nick Ensing's drawing depicts a colorful, detailed royal court, staffed by doe-eyed kings, queens and jesters. Junior Ellie Haveman's photo is of a girl's face, simple, shadowy and pure. Both pieces are Representative's Choice winners for ArtFest...
Students in art teacher Debra Kreuyer’s interior design class create spheres that are attached for a collaborative group mural called the Legacy Project

Students Leave a Legacy to Last, in Clay

By making hundreds of clay tiles utilizing form, line, shape and texture, high school students unleashed their creativity in creating a hallway mural

‘Free to Try, Free to Do Your Best’

For some students, inspiration came from a science teacher's lesson on the expanding universe. For others, it was reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the first time. And for others, it was finding their voice in the school choir. Many...
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