by Claire Englander
As we finished up the 2021-2022 school year and entered the 2022-2023 school year, the Barrack community noted the loss of major arts faculty, which begged the question of what was going to happen with the arts department. Many students find that the arts are a part of their daily life, whether they dance, sing, or play an instrument, and they enjoy attending a school that encourages participation in arts programs. As a result, the Chronicle reached out to Mrs. Farrell, Middle School Director & Arts Department Chair, to answer some common questions about the arts at Barrack.
What is happening with the drama department this year? Is Wolf PAC in place of a drama teacher/department? Is Wolf PAC permanent?
We are thrilled to announce our partnership with the Wolf Performing Arts Center (Wolf PAC) this year to work with our students in preparation for our three productions – an upper school student-directed production, a Middle School musical, and an Upper School musical. In addition, Wolf PAC will provide Barrack with visiting teachers in the theater arts who will offer a variety of electives to our middle school students.
We wish Dewey Oriente, long-time Drama Director, all the best in his retirement from Barrack.
What is happening with art? Is there hope to expand the program? Is art still a requirement?
Ms. Stern, our Art teacher, retired in June after being part of the Barrack community for 26 years.
We are excited to welcome our new art teacher, Mr. Adam Lovitz, to our school. Mr. Lovitz was recently profiled in the Jewish Exponent as someone to watch in the Art field. He is both a teacher and a professional artist and is thrilled to be joining the Barrack community. In addition, Ms. Emilie Grossman, our new Student Life and Activities Coordinator, will be teaching some art electives in the middle school during the second and third trimester. We have high hopes for extending the art program in terms of elective offerings and programming in the years ahead.
All MS students are required to take one Art elective each year. Arts education not only inspires and motivates students to enjoy learning, it also supports the creative and critical thinking skills that are so important to develop in today’s world. Research indicates that “engaging with art is essential to the human experience. Almost as soon as motor skills are developed, children communicate through artistic expression. The arts challenge us with different points of view, compel us to empathize with others, and give us the opportunity to reflect on the human condition” (The Brookings Institution).
Is music coming back?
Some of the middle school electives offered by Wolf PAC have a musical component – including musical theater, voice and guitar classes. For this coming school year, we will continue with our coffeehouse program to showcase our student musicians - those who play an instrument, who sing and want to perform. In addition, many of our talented student musicians will be featured at school programs over the course of the school year. We are also hopeful that students may be interested in creating music-based clubs, such as a band, acapella group, or singer-songwriter workshops.
What is the plan for arts as a whole in the future - is it going to be considered as important in an evergrowing STEAM environment? How will the community be encouraged to participate in the arts?
As a school, we understand and appreciate the value of arts education for our students. With our new school leadership in place, we have the desire to expand our Arts program in the near future. We look forward to working with our leadership team and hearing from students as we look to grow our offerings. How we grow and expand, and in what timeframe, is an ongoing conversation with our leadership team. We look forward to hearing from students as well about their interests as we look to the future.
This year, as we move past the limitations of the pandemic - we expect the arts at Barrack to grow and thrive, with a growing number of students participating in our vibrant drama program, showcasing their talents at our coffeehouse events, and engaging in the visual arts.