The Arts at St. Michael’s
The arts at SMCDS are second to none!” Mother of Students Age 7 and 13
From crayons to computers, singing to composing, acting to set-building, all of our students take part in the arts at St. Michael’s. Each program that we offer is highlighted below; however, the best way to see our students’ talents is to take a tour of our campus, and to witness our students acting, singing, pairing, sculpting, and playing musical instruments. Its magical, and yet it happens every day!
Arts in the Curriculum
All of our students, beginning with our preschoolers in the early childhood center, experience a robust Arts programming integrated into the curriculum. The overall goal of our arts program is to provide an environment that nurtures a child’s innate artistic ability, stimulates creative problem solving, and fosters a life long love and appreciation of the visual arts.
Music, Band, and Choir
Our youngest students enjoy music in both formal and informal settings, with singing, clapping, rhythm, and music/movement all integrated into their weekly and daily schedule. Formal music classes begin in the first grade. As our students progress through the Lower School, they learn more advanced singing, clapping, patting, tapping, and rhythms, and are given opportunities to perform throughout the school year.
By the third grade, recorders and reading printed music are introduced. In Middle School, students can partake in musical electives, including beginning or advanced bands, chorus, and recess singers, all in addition to their weekly music education class. Of note is that over 30% of the Middle School students play an instrument or sing in the band. As such the confidence and collaboration that comes with being part of a music ensemble are a natural part to our school’s graduates.
Visual Arts and Ceramics
Starting in Pre-kindergarten, students have formal art classes in our specially designed arts spaces which include a clay room, but even as young as Preschool our students are experiencing shape, color, line, space, and other elements of art throughout their day. As the students progress through the Early Childhood and Lower School grades, art is both integrated into their units of study, such as with the fourth grade’s Africa project, as well as being its own area of focus. Every student attends art class each week thorough the school, and Middle School students have the additional opportunity to enroll in visual art electives such as computer design, ceramics, and studio art.
A capstone to each year’s efforts in visual arts are the student-created installations prepared for the annual Arts Fest, which occurs mid-May each year. The middle school students enrolled in visual arts electives, including both ceramics and studio arts, imagine, plan, create, and permanently install a collaborative art work on campus.
Previous installations include ceramic globes in the outdoor garden, hanging butterflies amidst the middle school atrium, and mixed-natural-media mandalas along the clerestory of the hallways. The result is a student-inspired enhancement of the learning space, making it personal, warm, and engaging.
Acting and Technical Theater
By first grade, lower school students are also further exposed drama classes once a week with the goal of enriching the students’ learning and appreciation of the arts through play, improvisation, study, design, and performance. The curriculum builds on the natural desire to playact and imagine stories. Young actors and actresses create characters and scenes, culminating in a performance during the year. Each lower school grade goes on stage and presents a play. They also gain performance experiences during the Grandparents/Special Friends assembly, the Holiday assembly, ArtsFest, as well as grade plays. Many of these arts classes also tie into the themes that the students are exploring in the classroom. For example, fourth grade students perform African folktales and create African prints while studying Africa in their social studies classes.
Middle school students continue with the weekly art and music classes, but also take part in the formal arts curriculum. This secondary curriculum allows our students to spend two additional periods per week delving into performing and studio arts. The arts choices for middle school students include: studio art, computer graphics, band, chorus, theatre, and theatre tech.
Every fall, the Visual Arts students take to the Newport shoreline for a beach art installation project.