Students return to arts online

In order to adapt to the difficulties that remote learning poses, performing arts teacher Michele Spears said the department announced changes to the regular fall play in an official school-wide email last week. The musical will likely be held in the spring, and the play will be hosted in the fall, upper school dean Sharon Cuseo said in a virtual town hall for seniors Aug. 6.

For those within the arts department, the challenges presented by the pandemic have required innovative solutions in order to successfully start the school year from home, visual arts teacher Conor Thompson said.

Faculty transition

Thompson said that the art department has been working hard to make the transition to online learning this fall as smooth as possible.

“My colleagues in the department have been doing curriculum work all summer to prepare for the shift to the new block schedule, and now they are adapting that work to the distance learning format,” Thompson said. “I am creating more instructional videos and gathering more digital reference materials to account for that.”

The visual arts department announced plans such as creating art supply packages so that students can work on their projects from home.

“We learn a valuable lesson in all of this, which is that art can be created anywhere, any time, with limited access to materials,” Thompson said. “I always tell my students that you can make a beautiful [collection] of drawings with just a ballpoint pen and lined paper.”

Performing arts

Despite the current plans, many students said they wonder how this year will transpire in their arts courses. Jazz Band member and actor CC Mesa ’22 said she felt confused by the lack of information she was given about her classes.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen in Jazz Band or in acting,” Mesa said. “I’m assuming that we’re going to do acting as we did it in the last quarter of the school year, which was very nice and organized.”

Mesa echoed this sentiment when asked about the play and musical and said that the faculty within the arts department have not given information to the students yet regarding either performance. She expressed concern about the limited communication with students but said she remains optimistic due to the successes of online classes last year.

“I’m hopeful for this coming year because the end of last year wasn’t so bad, but I have been given no information about it,” Mesa said.

Student experiences

Other art students commented on the lack of communication from the department, including photography student Idalis McZeal ’23.

“So far [there’s been] nothing,” McZeal said. “I personally haven’t received information.”

Actor and singer Alon Moradi ’21 said that he was also worried about how the arts programs will be impacted this year.

“To be perfectly honest, the plans of how the teachers are going to adapt for the performing arts has not been very transparent to students,” Moradi said. “I think to some of us and my other friends that are in the program, it was a little bit unsettling to see that performing arts is one of the hardest-hit programs, and there was no one on the COVID task force that had anything to do with the department.”

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