How do you make a candlestick come to life?
For our 2016 all-school play, Beauty and the Beast, students pitched ideas to their classmates about the best costume for a walking, talking candlestick. In the art studio, they used papier-mache and cloth, as well as their lessons on circuits and electricity, to build the costume pieces they needed. The class drew on their work in physical theater and music classes to workshop the movements and choreography that would bring the character of Lumiere to life. And after the show, the actor and the designers were full of pride in having worked together, start to finish, to create the part.
We believe that creativity and academics are essential partners, equally meaningful ways to explore the world. That’s why Middle School arts at RMDS involves every student in every discipline. All middle school students take visual arts, performing arts and music every year. All three classes work to build skills while making essential connections to coursework in other subjects.
At Ring Mountain, every student’s creativity is nurtured and celebrated. Through the arts, students gain confidence and build community. They learn to take chances and that mistakes can lead to triumphs. As they explore the arts, they discover their own vision of the world.
The visual arts curriculum gives students the opportunity to work in multiple media while exploring the fundamentals of art and design. Projects spring from connections to other classes, or from artist studies. Classes explore form while examining the works of Alexander Calder and creating their own sculptures with plaster and wire. To coordinate with a study of the Civil Rights movement in history, students make collages in the style of Romare Bearden, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s words. Throughout the program, students build proficiency working with traditional and digital materials and advancing technique.
Performing arts classes combine improvisation, ensemble work, and technical theater to build confidence and skill. Exploring improvisation, students create compelling characters on the fly, transforming completely to create their character both physically and vocally. Ensemble work allows the class to support each other as each member builds his or her performance. Working in small groups, students practice playwriting and directing. As the all-school play approaches, classes turn to designing for the stage, including sets, lighting, sound, and costumes. Rehearsals and tech week build to performances in a local professional theater, bringing all of the year’s work to fruition.
Middle school students make music to learn music. Through singing and playing instruments, students gain an understanding of and proficiency in harmony and rhythm. Classes explore traditional and contemporary music, learning musical notation. In past years, students have formed bands, written music, or learned new instruments, including guitar, piano and drums. Open studio time during recess or lunch allows space to practice together or with a teacher. Performance opportunities throughout the year include the annual Grandparents and Special Friends Day concert, all-school talent shows, and the spring play.