The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 13, 2007


Fine Arts thrives at the Carlisle Public School

The Carlisle School Arts Department presented an overview of their work to the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) on April 4. School Committee Chair Nicole Burkel remarked that it was "mind boggling" how much the teachers are able to accomplish and how they incorporate the arts into the school's curriculum. "You guys are always excited," she added.

Members of the Department are Coordinator and Middle School Art Specialist Courtney Hadley, Elementary Art Specialist Rachel Levy, Elementary and Middle School Music Specialist and Choral Director Megan Fitzharris, Elementary Music Specialist Angela Monke, and Band Director Deana Saada.

Music instruction, choral, bands

Fitzharris, Monke and Saada gave overviews of the school music, choral and band programs. Fitzharris, who teaches general music in grades 1 and 4 through 8, also directs the Middle School Choir, the Advanced Choir and the newly-formed Men's Choir. The Middle School Choir grew from 41 last June to 70 this January, Fitzharris reported. The Middle School Advanced Choir has grown from 13 to 25 students. Carlisle School band offerings include Fourth-Grade, Fifth-Grade, Junior, Senior and Jazz Bands.

West African music

Fitzharris said she has continued her instruction in West African music, this year teaching fifth grades to play drumming instruments, sing in Akan and Fon (languages from Ghana), and perform a traditional social dance. The students performed the Ghanaian song Sansa Kroma and the Men's Choir performed Meda Wawa Ase at the December choral concert. In June the Middle School Choir will perform a South African four-part choral piece called Lizela. Fitzharris explained she is taking a course at Primary Source called "Continuity and Change in West Africa." She has been collaborating with Technology Specialist Cyd McCann to create an interactive web site that follows the path of Western African music to the early 1900s American music of blues and jazz. She explained she "collaborated with Angela Monke on the Second Grade United Nations day in October." The second-grade students performed Baba Oloowa while a group of fifth-grade students accompanied them on African instruments. A recording of the piece is available in the Gleason Library. In addition Fitzharris will travel in July to Ghana on a (privately funded) Primary Source Cultural Tour.
Middle School Music teacher Megan Fitzharris directs the Middle School Choir at a MICCA rehearsal concert given for parents on March 29. (Photo by Betsy Fell)

Chinese New Year

Monk, who teaches general music to grades 1—3, said all the music teachers collaborated with Chiao Bin Huang for the Chinese New Year Celebration, which was performed in February. She taught the students Asian music and traditional Chinese folks songs in Mandarin Chinese. She ties in the multicultural units by teaching students songs from around the world.

Large-sized bands

Carlisle School Jazz Band. (Courtesy Photo)

Saada reported the Fourth-Grade Band is 60 members out of a class size of 75. Students are learning to compose music as well as master their instruments. She said the Junior Band has 91 members and the Senior Band has 76 members. New band and choral music has been purchased, "thanks to the generosity of the Carlisle School Association (CSA)."

A newly created web site for the Carlisle Bands can be accessed through the Carlisle Public Schools home page

Saada said they hosted a Band Artist-in-Residence, Professor Greg Hopkins, at the end of February. He teaches jazz composition at Berklee College and directs the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra. He worked with all band members on jazz improvisation. Starting on April 5, Saada started a six-week jazz workshop in honor of National Jazz Month. The workshop meets every Thursday after school and is open to all fifth- through eighth-grade students who play an instrument.

Visual arts
Carlisle School Art teachers Courtney Graham-Hadley (left) and Rachel Dayson Levy attend the student art exhibit at the Gleason Library in February.(Photo by Mollie McPhee Ho)

Levy and Hadley presented details about the Winter Art Celebration Exhibit, which was held in the Gleason Library during February and March. "The exhibit featured over 200 works of art from students in grades K-8," she reported. In addition, groups of students performed songs at a public reception.

Levy reported that kindergarten students have been working on a variety of rainforest animals during their Rainforest Unit. The creatures will be printed on objects such as magnets, journals and t-shirts, which will be available for purchase. The proceeds will be donated to a rainforest charity organization. Also, artwork created by students in grades K — 8 will be displayed throughout the school during the annual Arts Week and Book Fair, held in May.

Award-winning art

Levy and Hadley brought some examples of the students' art, including van Gogh inspired creations by the second grade, folk-art weather vanes that tie into the Colonial studies, stuffed whales that tie into the mammals studies and Matisse inspired "goldfish." Hadley announced that students Steven Saul and Jesse Zwerling won Gold Key awards through the Boston Globe Scholastic Art Contest. Students Julia Makivic won a Silver Key, and Caroline Guild won an Honorable Mention award. Hadley explained that only 300 students out of 1,500 won awards this year. She demonstrated her Carlisle School visual arts web site at:

Peruvian pottery

"Through a generous grant made possible by the CSA," Hadley explained, "the middle school art department invited potter Bruce Barry, a teacher at the DeCordova Museum School of Art, to be visiting artist the week of March 19." Barry taught the history and techniques of Peruvian pottery once a week to sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The students are working to finish their pots, and Barry will return to give one more class on glaze and design painting.

"How are artists-in-residence chosen?" asked Burkel. Hadley, Fitzharris and Saada said they met the artists through courses they took during the summer, or through contacts. Burkel told the teachers that "It is great to see and hear" what the team is doing and how close they work with the classroom teachers. "They [the students] are always learning," she added. "We love it," replied Hadley. She said they all enjoy working in Carlisle. "The community is wonderful."

2007 The Carlisle Mosquito