Leveraging performing arts to boost self-confidence and communication skills
How a new on-site theatre will support Villanova College’s rich arts programming
Performing in front of an audience can be an excellent way for students to strengthen their self-confidence, creative self-expression, and self-assurance. These experiences can have a positive impact on students’ personal and academic development. At Villanova College in King City, performing arts and public speaking programs play a vital role in students’ lives both academically and in terms of co-curriculars.
One of the main co-curricular focuses of the school is musical theatre. Performances such as last year’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, allowed students from Grades 4 through 12 to get involved both on stage and in behind-the-scenes roles.
“Performing arts programs offer unique opportunities for both creative and social-emotional learning,” says Danielle Kolenko, department head of music and the school’s musical theatre director. “When students engage in collaborative projects like theatre productions or musical ensembles, they deepen their ability to communicate, they build new social-emotional skills, and they begin to truly understand the nature of creation.”
The instrumental and choir components of these productions are also extensive. Music is a significant focus at Villanova College, providing a universal language for all students to connect. “Making and performing music can be a transformative experience that can help students reach and exceed their potential both inside and outside of the classroom,” states Annmarie Viola, the school’s director of marketing and communications.
For those who aren’t interested in theatre, there are other opportunities to speak and present in a public forum. These include public speaking and debate. “The Debate and Public Speaking Society provides students with opportunities to cultivate and hone their communication skills through impromptu and performative speaking,” says Sally Mastromonaco, department head of English. “Our students participate in local, national, and international competitions that focus on parliamentary debate, interpretive reading, and persuasive and after-dinner speaking. Through these events, students build their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities and broaden their cultural experiences.”
When celebrating the culmination of all these programs with live performances, Villanova College has typically rented out space in a local theatre, taking their shows on the road as it were. But a new expansion plan, unveiled by the school as Project 2025, will allow student performers to welcome their audiences on campus starting in 2025. For Villanova it’s about an extension of community, bringing families on campus, and sharing the magic of what students work so hard to create.
“It’s so important to be able to gather as a community on our beautiful campus, because only when you visit our school do you get a real sense of what we are all about,” says Viola. “Community is extremely important to us, and for the students being able to perform in front of friends and family, to share all of their hard work, is an invaluable experience.”
The school’s new 40,000 sq. ft. addition will include a 330-seat theatre, specialty classrooms for music and drama, and a new dining hall and kitchen. These spaces will allow students to discover and develop their unique talents and offer new places for the community to gather.
Since its establishment in 1999, Villanova College has consistently experienced growth and expansion, all while offering students a comprehensive and rigorous academic curriculum, equipping them for success in higher education and beyond, and fostering a commitment to leadership and service to others. Approaching its 25th anniversary, the school is excited to unveil plans for this next phase of growth.
In order to bring Project 2025 to life, the school launched its first ever capital campaign. Upon completion, this will be a $20 million project of which $12 million has already been raised prior to announcing the public campaign. “We are very excited to reveal soon, the generous donors that have already committed to helping us see this project realized,” says Viola.
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