Planning an out-of-school field trip with 350 students is daunting. What if you could bring the field trip experience to your school? Eagleview Middle School’s Academic Arts Academy (Colorado Springs, Academy District #20) is a school-within-a-school which integrates the arts into core academic instruction. Each year, we create an in-school field trip called Art Day that brings artists from the local and state art communities to teach small-group seminars to 6th - 8th graders.
Students attended four seminars in a variety of artistic fields: dance, yoga, architecture, graphic design, watercolor, puppetry, broadcast journalism and public speaking, improvisation, lyric writing, African drums, charcoal drawing, culinary arts, magic, and photography – just to name a few. With our additional grant funding this year, we were able to hire a Think360 Artist at each grade level.
From the students’ perspective, this is one of the highlights of their year and what makes the Arts Academy such a great program. In addition to a day immersed in a variety of art forms, students are exposed to possible career options in the Colorado Creative Industries. Students often remark that “they didn’t know they could do something like this for a job” when they grow up, and now they see the great potential in using their many gifts and passions in the work they choose. I was so pleased that students could see real-world relevance of the Arts. Because students are immersed in various forms of the arts throughout the day, multiple state standards for the arts are addressed, as well as district-identified 21st Century standards in critical thinking, collaboration, and innovation.
The challenges associated with organizing an event of this magnitude should not be understated. It requires a large group of professionals to make connections in the community to get artists into the building. For our May 1st event date, the coordination with artists began the first week of January in order to secure the number we needed. Next, we coordinated bulk supply purchases for each seminar. The staff organized open classroom spaces for each session and made sure each room had the requested set-up and A/V needs for the session. Since there are more artists than available teachers, we must provide supervision using district-approved parent volunteers. Finally, the teams at each grade-level created small groupings and a master rotation schedule for the students. With the right group of professionals and a supportive budget and administration, this is an amazing way to bring the Arts community into your school.
Regardless of these challenges, the end we have in sight far outweighs the means. The artists enjoy the luncheon time as a way to network with their peers and some have even coordinated together on later projects as a result of meeting at Art Day. With generous support from Think 360, Art Day was a great success!