Over the past two weeks, I, like many others of the SMS community, had the opportunity to experience a wonderful display of artistic talents that included the visual arts, media arts, dramatic arts, and music. Every May, we celebrate the arts with a series of back-to-back events including whole school drama productions, an art show, and performances by both the choir and the band. What I saw went beyond just a celebration of the arts; instead I witnessed a synergy of talents that connected the older students with the younger students in the choir and drama performances, included the visual arts via the fabulous set and props for the drama production of Annie, and expressed the creative talents and ideas of our students through a variety of media – drawing and painting, graphics, ceramics, sculpture and three-dimensional art. I observed the willingness of both staff and students to “capture” the moments via videotaping and photography, and finally beheld, and heard, the audience’s heartfelt appreciation for the efforts of our budding artists. In the end, I saw an abundance of opportunities for creative expression.
Even yesterday, at our Junior School assembly, I was amazed at the confidence and skills of our Junior Kindergarten students who comfortably shared their musical talents with the help of their grade five reading and baking buddies! Two of our youngest students also provided solo performances on the piano. With the support of the teachers and our terrific external service providers – music, speech arts, and ballet instructors – there are numerous venues for the girls to develop, share, and showcase their talents at St. Margaret’s.
Today, more than ever, the arts provide a forum for safe expression, communication, exploration, and cultural appreciation. Brain research confirms that arts education strengthens cognitive and creative skills, helping to develop the imaginations of our young people through their involvement in the creative process itself. Regular participation in the arts develops self-confidence, self-discipline, persistence, and the knowledge of how to make multiple revisions to create high quality work (in fact, experimenting and taking risks is a welcome part of the learning process). The skills and experience that students develop by learning to perform, create, and respond to works of art or to dramatic/musical performances provides a foundation for the kinds of literacy students must have to communicate and work successfully in our ever-changing media, technology, and information age.
I am pleased to say that at St. Margaret’s School, we make every effort to celebrate the arts on a daily basis.