PIQUA — With the goal of exposing Piqua kids to a variety of art experiences they may not normally have access to, the Piqua Arts Council’s program in local schools, Creative Classrooms sponsored by Polysource, Inc., is in between two of their big events.
In late February, the program brought fourth graders to symphony music and theater to kindergartners and first graders. Later this month, Creative Classrooms will send second graders to a performance at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton.
“Creative Classrooms is a program that we do that runs all year long,” said Jordan Knepper, executive director of the Piqua Arts Council. “Our big things that happened recently … Feb. 26 was a big (day) for Creative Classrooms. We sent the entire fourth grade at Piqua Central Intermediate School to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra to see their Young People’s Concert.”
Knepper said that he received feedback from school administrators and teachers who said that kids loved it.
“At the end of the performance, while all of the school buses were loading, the conductor came out and spoke specifically to the Piqua kids in the audience and the let them ask questions and things like that,” Knepper said. “But the Young People’s Concert is special, because it takes the Springfield Symphony Orchestra and pairs them with the youth orchestra and the youth choir to do one big performance. So these kids got to see their contemporaries there doing this.”
Knepper’s goals for Creative Classroom are different than for other programs the Piqua Arts Council has to offer.
“I’m not looking for some kid to suddenly fall in love with music or anything like that,” Knepper said. “I want to inspire joy through the arts in them, and I hope to spark some creativity. I think those are the biggest things we can accomplish … by finding educational events that are outside of what they normally can get to both ‘wow’ them and create that mystery that helps with the creativity. I think we really accomplish that by finding the highest level of quality in the programming that we send them to.”
In addition to sending the fourth grade to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, the Piqua Arts Council brought the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company into the school system to do a special school day performance on that same day in February. The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company did two performances, one at Springcreek Primary and another at Washington Primary.
“It was just for kindergarten and first grade,” Knepper said. “That went over really well. The kids talked about it afterward.” Knepper said the performance piece focused on four girls going through a typical school day. Four dancers performed, and the head of the touring company was the narrator and the teacher.
Coming up this month, the Piqua Arts Council is going to take all of the second graders to the Victoria Theatre Association’s performance of “Havana Hop,” which was written and choreographed by Paige Hernandez, and also will be performed by Hernandez.
The description of Havana Hop from the Victoria Theatre Association’s website says:
What if you were invited to dance for the President of the United States? You’d want it to be the best dance ever! Come meet young Yelia who visits her grandmother in Cuba to add a salsa flavor to her own hip-hop style! The audience gets to dance along in this dynamic participation play where one actress creates three generations of lively women. Go on this amazing journey with Yelia as she discovers the fun of her multi-cultural heritage.
The focus of the program is to bring quality art programming into Piqua City School, impacting different segments of school that includes kindergarteners, first through third graders, fourth through sixth graders, and seventh through 12th graders.
“With knowledge of the curriculum standards, we find programming that fits within that,” Knepper said. “We have several teachers on this committee … and we have a retired teacher on the committee as well. So we’re very much connected with the school when we make the decisions on what we want to do, and then we schedule it with the school.”
The only cost to Piqua City Schools is the cost of busing the children to the symphony and to “Havana Hop.” The Piqua Arts Council pays for the tickets, receiving support from Polysource, Inc. for this program.
For more information on the Piqua Arts Council, visit their website at piquaartscouncil.org.
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall