For the Love of Art: 2016 Excellence and Innovation in the Arts Awards
For the Love of Art: 2016 Excellence and Innovation in the Arts AwardsMaria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux, Director, Communications, and Melissa Heinz, Associate Director, SpringBoard
Among the winners of this year’s 2016 College Board Awards for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts, there are stories about creating friendships between different generations, finding forgiveness in painful periods in history, and ensuring access to the arts for all who desire it.
The annual award recognizes and celebrates arts initiatives that serve students in grades 6-12 and promote learning and creativity in exemplary and innovative ways.
Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon, CA, won the overall award and first place in the “Civic Engagement” category.
Three years ago, Dougherty Valley High School’s AP Studio Art teacher Kelsey Wengel realized her students’ portraits were exceptional, but they didn’t tell a story about the subject. So she created the “The Beauty in Age” project — students would take a field trip to the local senior center, meet and interview a group of willing senior citizens from their community, and then create portraits of them. Each year, students prepare interview questions in advance, considering historical and world events they could ask about, and then spend the day with seniors who they're paired with. Students then get to work, focusing not only on composition and aesthetics, but also on the ways that their portraits might tell viewers something about the subject. The student art is masterful and varied, reflecting a true consideration of the unique qualities of their senior partners.
“It has become a highlight of our AP Art program. It’s something the students look forward to, and also something that our community has grown to acknowledge and support,” explained Ms. Wengel about “The Beauty in Age” project.
She added: “Many of our senior citizens sign up to be involved in the program a year in advance, and we still have students staying in touch with their senior participants. Some have been contracted to do commissioned pieces, and many have built lasting friendships with the families involved. It really has built a bridge between families and generations.”
Another winner, Hoover High School in San Diego, CA, took the top prize in the “Integration” category.
In a partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, high school English teacher Katalin Behumi and teaching artist Lorain Rihan collaboratively designed a six-week unit of study titled “Freedom of the American Individual.” The unit focused on a variety of historical/expository texts, including speeches and essays about individualism, transcendentalism, and civil disobedience and their influence on key civil rights figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
“The integrative arts project between the Hoover students and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego proved to be meaningful for many of the students, who were able to express emotions that they had been holding inside for a long time,” said Michael Heu, ALMA Director and Publications Advisor at Hoover High School. “This project allowed students the medium to creatively release their feelings, and this project has shown to be a catharsis for providing some relief, which strongly connected them to the literature.”
Ms. Behumi and Ms. Rihan said one of the highlights of this experience was a day when half of the class wanted to stay after school to continue working on their prints.
The students had a gallery showing (and kickoff reception) at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on June 11.
The “Equity through Arts” category winner, Howard Middle School in Orlando, FL, faced the challenge of being an arts magnet school where some students were unable to participate in arts classes.
In Florida, students with low reading scores often cannot take arts courses as electives because they are required to take a reading course instead. In response to this barrier, Howard established Club Zero, a before-school program offering graded and structured arts courses taught by certified arts teachers. Course topics were selected based on student interest and have included Show Choir, Acting, Jazz Band, Studio Art, Animation, and Dance Troupe. School administrators report that Club Zero has created a high demand from parents and a sense of pride in the students participating. It has also created opportunities for students to exhibit their talent and hard work in public settings in the community — through partnerships with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, and at venues like the Lake Eola Bandshell and the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.
We congratulate all the teachers and students for all their dedication, talent, and passion to create meaningful art.