The Langley School District’s reputation of supporting creativity and emphasizing the importance of artistic culture amongst its student body is well-deserved. With an approach that promotes the development of required learning outcomes through various forms of the arts, the district is making waves in BC’s K-12 public education system.
Three schools within the district have provided BCSTA with glances into their unique approaches, all of which seek to elevate the arts in public education while providing students with the skills and abilities they require.
BLACKLOCK FINE ARTS ELEMENTARY
The mission statement at Blacklock Fine Arts Elementary is “academic excellence through artistic experience.”
At Blacklock, we believe in our children and work towards creating hope and opportunity for all. Together, we hope to inspire all learners to reach their full potential and create a positive legacy for the future. Our school is a place that promotes respect, responsibility, and artistic & academic excellence in a safe, caring, learning environment.
Blacklock offers an integrated fine arts program to students in Kindergarten through Grade 5. The students work in learning pods where the BC Curriculum is taught through dance, drama, music and visual arts. Lessons and units are organized around themes, providing learning experience for all students that are meaningful, engaging and inter-connected through each art form. Learning is demonstrated in a yearly pod show. This year the K and Grade 1 students demonstrated much of their language arts learning through a show titled “Oh the Places You Will Go” a celebration of the work of Dr. Seuss. Students developed and learned great beginning reading skills through the celebration. Curricular connections were deep and meaningful for young learners, including patterns in Math and Oobleck in Science, the concept of synergy and the fact that together is better. Applied Design Skills and Technology offered the opportunity for the students to take a design idea and then adjust it to fit with what they can do and execute the concept.
Seeing students own their art and gain confidence; hearing students talk about the friendships and trust that they have with each other because of risks taken together and from watching each other in performance; teachers report being stretched professionally and artistically, working closely with colleagues, and learning from their ideas and teaching styles; students leave the school thinking like artists with a desire to create, appreciate, and critique the arts.
Teaching in a fine arts school is magical, it is filled with emotion and both students and staff are transformed. Teachers at Blacklock believe that by weaving the arts throughout the curriculum they will provide learning opportunities to engage all students. Kindergarten and Grade 1 students have spun their own magic in the land of Dr. Seuss. It is our dream that all students would have the opportunity to experience an integrated Fine Arts Education.
D.W. POPPY MUSICAL ACADEMY
As the demographics have been shifting within the area, the D.W. Poppy community has been engaged in discussions about what would be a natural fit for students at the school.
The Musical Theatre Program gained Academy status in 2015 and has grown to over 100 students with as many as 35 fully committed academy students.
The D.W. Poppy Secondary Musical Theatre Academy offers an opportunity for students to develop their skills in music, acting, dance and technical theatre through experiential learning. The program aspires to teach and motivate students to create and inspire through artistic expression.
Under the guidance of teachers and professionals working in the fine arts, students learn about every aspect of theatrical production as they prepare for and present musical theatre performances to the Langley/Aldergrove community.
The primary goals of the academy are to provide practical skills, knowledge, and tools in the interpretation, creation and presentation of artistic works. The academy also seeks to foster well-rounded growth through creativity, skill building, social connectedness and collaborative teamwork. The promotion of self-discipline, organizational skills, self-confidence, and deeper appreciation for the arts rounds out the qualities D.W. Poppy Musical Academy seeks to instill in its students.
LANGLEY FINE ARTS SCHOOL
Langley Fine Arts is a ‘choice’ district school (drawing students from across the district with no catchment assigned), educating students from K to 12. It is a very popular school with a comprehensive educational program focusing on the arts.
Since its inception in 2011, the “Arts Matter Lecture/Arts Series” has welcomed 14 prominent artists and arts advocates to share their experiences, artistic journeys, words of wisdom and encouragement with the students, staff, alumni, families and community of Langley Fine Arts School. The lecture series invites guests to talk about why the arts matter in today’s world. Guest artists explore ideas about what the arts have to offer for both personal expression and social change.
During the weeks leading up to the visits LFAS is alive, with over 300 elementary, middle and secondary aged students involved in collaborative learning opportunities with staff. This learning is inspired in the style of the guest artist – whether it be through the lens of dance, drama, music, photography, visual art or writing.
During the one or two-day visits, LFAS students have access to the artists during workshop presentations, artist critiques, and/or class seminars. An evening presentation provides a celebratory culmination of learning. LFAS students perform individual and group pieces that connect with the artist’s craft, as a show of appreciation and a demonstration of their own learning. The guest artist closes the evening by answering audience questions and sharing their own perceptions about why the arts matter.
By putting the focus on teaching toward the artistic strengths and inclinations of their students, the Langley School District is providing BC with a prime example of how to couple passion alongside the traditional curriculum. The resulting uptake and positive responses from students, as well as the local communities they live in, remind us of the importance the arts have in education.