The students that volunteer their time and knowledge on Reach a Student are eligible to receive community service hours. We are looking to expand our roster of academic and athletic mentors, interviewers, and video editors to help inspire and answer school-related questions.
Reach a Student is a website established to give students direct communication access to student mentors in various grade levels. Students will be able to reach out to other students and ask any questions they have regarding student and campus life. The site will also stream videos of students sharing their experiences at Windermere Prep as well as activities around campus.
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With the new addition of the Cypress Center and the brand new theatre, there has been a lot of speculation of the theatre programs, including the addition of IB theatre - what does this all mean? I am able to participate in most theatre functions and have a large understanding of how the performing arts programs run daily, as well as all the opportunities available for students.
It's called "Thespians" for short, however it is the International Thespian Society. This is a club that revolves around theatre in general, as well as going to theatre competitions. Students practice scenes, monologues, songs, and technical events like costume design and playwriting, and participate in a festival for a few days in our district whilst being judged, and if they get a high enough score, can take a trip to the Florida state festival and take workshops and classes from the very best as well as performing. However, thespians has multiple other events for those who do not get into districts- this includes Improv. Night, The Haunted House, Shakespeare Night, and many new events such as Miscast and W factor (in which boys perform female numbers and vise versa), and school events like the homecoming parade. However, this club forms a community and even if you do not participate on stage or backstage but enjoy the art form, then it is to learn about and celebrate everything theatre has to offer.
WHAT THESPIANS REQUIRE
The Officers are very involved in running thespians - our sponsor helps us, however organization of events is all us. We make plans for all the meetings, send emails, and decide what to do throughout the year. We have to be leaders of the troupe and help critique district pieces, have separate meetings, go to club events, find ways to raise money, etc. It is very busy, almost like a job as well have to do something everyday, but very rewarding.
With the opening of the cypress center came a plethora of new school shows for students to participate in - both offstage and onstage. These include the current "Peter Pan" All School, the high school play "Steel Magnolias", the HS/MS musical of "Addams Family", as well as the Lower Schoolers "Cinderella" and the MS Broadway review. There will also be a summer camp show of "Les Miserables" in which anyone in the community can participate in. This means that it is a fulfilling year for both technical and theatrical students, but it is also a lot of work.
The performance sets are very difficult to maintain, therefore many students take classes in and outside of school in order to keep and improve their skills. A lot of theatre students take dance classes in order to keep with the demand of movement in shows, as well as musical theatre which can contain high intensity dancing in multiple styles. They also take choir or chorus, to learn the proper technique of singing, the different variations, and how to be united in a group. Both of these classes also give the benefit of making the student a triple threat, something desired in the community because of the versatility of the student that allows them to perform roles with multiple requirements (for example a character that can sing opera, or Tap dances). Some students even take music classes to learn or understand musical instruments and how to read music- there are many shows that now require actors to play instruments and the business is very competitive. These music students also have an opportunity to play in the orchestra of a show.
However, the most important part is acting or theatrical classes. It is the backbone of musical theatre - performance is about expressing yourself, which is what this class does. There is so much variation in acting and an actor can always improve in each style and in each style and needs constant direction in order to be as close to perfect as possible. This helps abstract theatre, speech, script work, directing and critiquing others, and being able to learn about techniques.
Technical theatre is also expanding at our school, through the use of the art classes. WPS is beginning to make its own sets, and creative minds are needed for this. Students that take art classes are creative, problem solvers, able to view the full picture and see what compliments, and bring new ideas to the table.
It is important to take these fine and performing art classes because it keeps the students in a creative mindset, allows them to expand and grow, and can bring it to their multiple projects.
Many students find their volunteer hours through the performing arts. Many of the lower school and middle school shows invite HS and MS students to tech backstage or stage manager, as well as help the children, and the high school shows have a tech team that consists of high school students- for example, many high school students are "fly crew" in Peter Pan, which is a very big job. Not only does it create leadership and organizational skills, but it gives students many CAS and volunteer hours. Thespians tech at both W factor and Mr. Windermere Prep, and students usually help the performing arts teachers in tasks.
Windermere Prep offers a wide variety of choices in their Fine Arts department - you can focus on traditional art, dance, drama, or band and orchestra music. I know that sounds daunting, especially if you're first entering high school. It can be hard to choose, especially if you think that you're not particularly good at any of these. But I'm here to tell you that innate talent should not guide you in your decisions, at least in the art program.
High school is the time when people really start to learn more about themselves. They learn what they want, what they're good at, and how to become more independent. They also learn to challenge themselves, and to try and learn new things that they've never done before.
Many of the students you see that blow you away with their sheer talent in art? It didn't come to them just like that. They dedicated time to practice and work on their skills because they genuinely wanted to learn. That's why the teachers are there: to help you learn and practice. They don't look at a student and think, "oh, they're good at dancing, I'm only taking them in my class." They look at a student and consider their potential.
There's no real way I can help you choose what you want to do in the Fine Arts program; that's all up to you. Think about what you want. Consider these questions:
Answering these questions will make it easier to make the decision, and hopefully it will leave you satisfied with whatever choice you make.
Good luck, everyone!
At Windermere Prep, we're lucky to have such a well-developing, ambitious, and growing Arts Program available to students of all ages, no matter their level of skill. One of these many programs is the Dance Program, taught by Gilliane Hadley and Alison Barron. Many students, new or returning, may have questions or hesitations about the Dance Program at our school, which is why I sat down with high school dance instructor, Ms. Hadley, to provide some answers to any of your questions.
What do you like the most about the dance program at Windermere Prep?
H: What I like most about the dance program is that you get to dance everyday and I get to see you grow throughout the year. I've had students since they were freshman and now they're about to graduate as seniors. I also love that the fact that the dancers have different levels they can dance in and then they have a choice to take IB Dance or stick with elective dance or do both, which is amazing. I love that they get the opportunity to perform and do activities with Juilliard.
How do you think dance counts as both a sport and an art? Why are both elements important?
H: As an art, because it's a performing art, right? As for being mixed with a sport and art, we're physical, we're always moving, our heart rate is elevated, and we are our own athletes in our own way. Our bodies need to be warm like an athlete and will wear down like an athlete. For each genre of dance, there are certain skills and elements you need to know, just like any sport.
How do you come up with our themes and visions for our dance shows?
H: Sometimes it just happens, and sometimes I just hear something in a song. Music inspires me a lot. If I hear something, I can totally envision certain groups of kids dancing to it, which is how I figure out what dances you're going to do. Regarding the themes of the shows, me and Mrs. Barron really work together trying to figure that out because we have to be able to pick something that not only you guys will be excited about, but also what will inspire us to create those dances. We always like to challenge you and ourselves. Sometimes we think, "Oh my gosh, what are we doing?" But we are always thinking of you guys and what will keep you excited about dance and challenge some classes technique wise.
What do you think the dance program at Windermere Prep has to offer students and aspiring dancers?
H: So, for students who love to dance, it's a nice break from sitting at a desk all day. It should be an escape from your busy school schedule. Yes, I have high expectations for you, but if you love to dance, those expectations should be second nature. I can only help you so much, but if you try, those accomplishments are worth it in the end. Sometimes it's hard, because our classes are so short in terms of regular dance classes. Celeste, one of my aspiring dancers who graduated last year, found it hard to go to auditions and face the dance world because she couldn't take away everything that she should have. But we are not a studio, we are a school. It's not about taking a technique class. There are things we have to dive into more such as terminology, dance history, watching the works of other dancers and choreographers and creating compositions. I try to base our classes off how performing arts schools teach their dancers and try to shape versatile dancers. I want students to be able to walk into an audition or a dance group in college and be able to dance any genre or style, even if dancing professionally is not their ultimate goal.
Why do you think students should take a dance class next year, even if they've never danced before and what can they take away from it?
H: They should not take a dance class if they don't like to move or sweat. I think they should take a dance class because it's good for your health and it builds your brain in a different way. It's a release and it's enjoyable. It's interesting to see dancers in the first month and see which dancers make it to the next semester and the changes in the way they dance; it amazes me every time. They come in so enthusiastic and so ready to be challenged more. The best reason to take dance is that you really learn who you are and how much discipline you have and how much you really want to grow as a person.
Besides Global Classroom, there is also a program that might interest aspiring WPS musicians and it is called Global Orchestra. This past March musicians from all the Nord Anglia schools were invited to audition for the opportunity to be selected to participate in the Global Orchestra summer school in New York from June 24th to July 1st. This year 34 singers and 46 instrumentalists were chosen from Nord Anglia schools around the world and spent their week attending music workshops and participated in practice sessions conducted by music experts. This is another wonderful opportunity for Windermere Prep students because we are part of this large family of schools.
The Juilliard School which was founded in 1905, is a world leader in performing arts education and it is not surprising that students at our school are really interested in finding out more about the partnership between Nord Anglia Education and The Juilliard School.
I think we will see curriculum changes, which will begin with music but will extend into the other performing art categories. WPS musicians will soon be exposed to a "Juilliard-curated repertoire" of music that represents different genres, styles and cultures. Nord Anglia students are to gain understanding how music functions and how it fits into the human experience.
Windermere Prep teachers and students will benefit from being connected to Juilliard's network of teachers and performers. Also, Juilliard teaching artists will be sharing their insight with the Nord Anglia teaching community. The result of all this is so that students at Nord Anglia schools receive the highest level of performance art teaching available.
Performing arts is something that is really important to students at our school and that is why the partnership between Nord Anglia and The Juilliard School will be a huge benefit for our school. Clearly, this will help to enrich our performing arts curriculum as described above. Students will be able to connect with Julliard's countless performers and teachers. I think that this can only help inspire students to excel in this field.