Christmas 2019 Musical Program

 

Rotarians and Guests at Monday’s Holiday Celebration were treated to a very special presentation by students and staff from R.N Harris Integrated Arts/Core Knowledge Magnet School. Introduced by Rotarian Steed Rollins, Jeremy Tucker, new Director of Arts Programs for Durham Public Schools, spoke of the school’s focus on “integrating all subjects with music, dance, drama, visual and literary arts to engage every student in memorable learning.” The program, which Tucker referred to as the A+ program, “essentially ‘levels the playing field’ for all students that attend RN Harris.”

5th grade violin students performing with their teacher Ann Bauer opened the performances. They began with simple exercises between themselves and the teacher and gradually moved to more complex melodies and rhythms. This use of “Suzuki Method” techniques allows students with varying training to experience success in playing from the very beginning.

Student singers and dancers presented music and dance selections from Frozen, which Tucker explained was based on Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” and the ballet “The Nutcracker.” The program closed with a demonstration of the Samba dance rooted in the Brazilian Culture and the Mamba which is based in the Cuban culture. Dance Teacher, Toya Chinfloo and Music Teacher, Elizabeth Vick, directed the music and dance selections.

The enthusiasm, joy and focus of these young people under the direction of their teachers was thrilling and heart warming. As a former Music Teacher, who taught this level in public schools for a short time before moving on to another career, I know how difficult it can be to achieve the level of accomplishment we saw today. I’m also aware, as an amateur musician, how much it means to experience the success that these young people have achieved. It showed on their faces!

Tucker emphasized that “the integrated arts approach is an interdisciplinary collaboration that realizes that all children are artists and that art can be used to strengthen all learning as well as provide social and emotional support for all students that attend RN Harris.” Tucker thanked the Teachers and Principals of RN Harris as well as Deputy Superintendent of Academic Services, Dr. Nakia Hardy and Assistant Superintendent of Specialized Services, Dr. Deborah Pitman who also attended. He closed by quoting an RN Harris student who said, “The arts allow me to express myself in ways that otherwise would not be possible. I am allowed to do it freely.”

Submitted by Doug Butler

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