The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 16, 2004


Art and music thrive at the Carlisle School

All five members of the Carlisle School Fine Arts Department were obviously enjoying themselves as they presented a program overview to the Carlisle School Committee on April 7. "How many school committees ask the fine arts to make a presentation?" asked music teacher Tom O'Halloran. After introducing Megan Fitzharris, David Negrin, Courtney Hadley, and Angela Monke, he suggested Negrin give the last presentation. "We need to honor David's impact on our school for so many years," said O'Halloran. "I'm sure he has a million stories. Let's leave him for last."

Who is Thelonius Monk?

Angela Monke, the kindergarten through third-grade music teacher, gave highlights of the elementary music program which includes a unit on jazz artist Thelonius Monk. "No relation," she joked. "The students and I learned together," she explained. "I had students go home and ask their parents about Thelonius Monk." Students went to the library to research Monk, listened to his CDs, and did Internet research, she said. During a unit on composing simple songs first graders used "behavior over time" graphs, a Systems Thinking tool, to illustrate the movement of their pieces. Students in grades one through four use a computer program "Music Ace" to "practice their literacy skills." Having just one computer in the music department makes incorporating computers more difficult, she pointed out.

Music and civilization

Middle school music teacher Megan Fitzharris reported the fourth graders are studying Chinese and Mexican folk music, a support for the classroom units on ancient civilizations and western hemisphere geography.

Fitzharris was particularly excited about a sixth-grade unit on the "science of sound." Sixth graders built their own working instruments this year, she said. The middle school choir is set to perform at the eighth grade graduation.

She has also taken on three kindergarten classes this year.

Fitzharris announced that she has been accepted into the Masters of Music Education program, focused on Choral Conducting, at Gordon College.

Painting their own masterpieces

Elementary art teacher Courtney Graham-Hadley brought examples of the fourth-grade students' illustrations for their short stories. The fifth graders are learning about the Impressionists and painting their own masterpieces, some of which she displayed on the wall. The annual Carlisle School art show will be on May 10. She said she is talking with the Gleason Library about using their third-floor room for community fine arts lectures.

Applause for art teacher

David Negrin

Retiring middle school art teacher David Negrin brought numerous examples of art projects done by Carlisle Middle School students. "There's no shop in this school," Negrin said. "So I've incorporated some of that [hands-on work] in their curriculum." He explained that the students have to learn and practice basic skills, but become engaged in the end product while learning. He said that many of the special tools that he uses for stained glass, mosaics and wood carving were purchased with Carlisle School Association (CSA) grants. He encourages his students to investigate materials and methods. "Part of the art process is experimentation and support." Negrin displayed examples of beautiful mosaic designs done by the students, which took several weeks of twice-a-week art classes.

Negrin explained how he sets up a safe environment and demonstrated the use of a ruler, which he had modified by gluing a strip of cork on the back, as a cutting guide. "You can't make the knife slip," he explained. "You have 25 kids and lots of glass," he said, pointing out the need for safety rules. While displaying some in-progress stained glass compositions, Negrin explained that students do not use lead for foiling the glass.

"We are enormously grateful for your work," said Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson to Negrin. "We thank you on behalf of all the children whose lives you've improved." The committee gave Negrin a round of applause. "It's amazing," added committee member Michael Fitzgerald. "Look at the work of David's students, and Tom's; the quality is phenomenal."

2004 The Carlisle Mosquito