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Arts and Languages

Drama, language and other arts programs at private schools

Students at several different private schools discuss the benefit of those schools' rich focus on arts and language.

Behind the brushstrokes

When the Grade 8 class produced and performed in a production of Fiddler On The Roof, they were doing much more than entertaining a crowdthey were learning.

Even the backdrop for the play, designed and painted by the students in the style of the late artist Marc Chagallwith help from their visual arts teacher Anna Grudawas incorporated into an overall lesson.

"By studying the biography of Chagall in art class, we were able to learn more about the time period in Russia when the play took place," says Simon, a 14-year-old student. "We all helped paint this huge canvas with colours and images Chagall used in his work."

The result was quite spectacular and the project helped the students relate to the characters they were playing on stage.

At Toronto Waldorf School, in Thornhill, Ontario, students spend three-week intervals focusing on one main lesson, while a number of their other classes, including art, support the subject they're learning.

"It allows the students to really immerse themselves in something specific," says Gruda. 

Joining the culture club

When Grade 8 student Jimena, travelled to Marseilles, France earlier this year to compete in an international gymnastic competition, it changed her opinion about learning French.

"It was my first time in Europe so it was a great experience to see how different things are," she says.

Jimena was grateful for the opportunity to practice what she has been learning in the classroom at Mississauga, Ontario's St. Jude's Academy, since almost everyone she encountered on her trip spoke French. This experience made her decide to take her learning of the language to the next level.

"When I came back to Canada, I was inspired to learn French so that I can speak fluently," she says. "I finally realized that there was a point to learning another language."

Taking centre stage

Justin, 15, is learning about William Shakespeare by participating in a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream in which he's playing the role of Demetrius.

"My character is really snobby and stuck-up," he says. "It's fun playing different personalities."

Each year, the Grade 9 and 10 students from Venta Preparatory School in Ottawa, Ontario team up with the Grade 2 class to bring Shakespeare's plays to life.

"You literally want to become your character on stage," says Justin. "You have to speak and think like him."

The school is also involving students in the younger grades. Justin notes that the children in Grade 2 will play the fairies.

"They don't have many lines, but they love to dance around in their costumes, he says.

Hailey Eisen & Claudia D'Souza
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