The 2020 LPMS Performing Arts Program Plan
Students attending La Pine Middle School in 2020 may choose as electives Beginning or Advanced Band, Choir, and/or Art. Individuals with a dramatic interest may join an after school drama group and participate in one or more productions each year. Those students interested in learning guitar may participate weekly in a co-curricular guitar class. All students will experience annual school-wide concerts by professional performers sponsored by Sunriver Music Festival (SRMF). Exceptional performing arts students may be offered SRMF scholarships to advance their talents.
Participation in the Oregon Community Foundation Studio to Schools Program has changed the cultural environment at La Pine Middle School, opening new horizons for students and families.
Before Studio to Schools
Before La Pine Middle School was selected as a Studio to Schools Oregon Community Foundation site, only two arts class sections were available to students – Choir and Art. Beyond sports no co-curricular activities were offered. Though, historically, the school supported a Band class and a co-curricular drama production, budget cuts eliminated these programs years ago. Opportunities for students to be recognized as exceptional by their peers and by their community belonged almost exclusively to athletes. Few other non-academic paths to recognition existed.
Defining the Path
The initial La Pine Middle School/Sunriver Music Festival Studio Studio to Schools application proposed restoring Band. Encouraged to think more broadly, the Studio team interviewed students to learn what other arts options they might like to have at school. Few students had any idea what to suggest! The need to provide students additional arts education experiences was painfully evident!
The first year a beginning band class was created, and co-curricular clubs including guitar, photography and drama were offered. Many students participated, quite a few trying after school activities for the first time. At year’s end, student accomplishments were showcased for an audience of community leaders at the school’s first annual Evening of the Arts. The Studio team’s decision to send personal invitations to community leaders was strategic and effective. More than 100 attended, enthusiastically applauded the students’ achievements and began promoting the event as an annual community expectation. Students who had been nervous and fearful to publicly perform discovered joy in sharing their achievements and pride in the public recognition.
Years two and three continued and expanded these offerings, adding to them an Advanced Band class, an additional Art class, and mentor support for art teachers and for PE teachers offering dance units. A middle/high school musical was initiated in year three. Student and parent response to all these programs was enthusiastic. New school student cultural arts leaders were recognized and celebrated by peers and by the whole community right alongside previously recognized athletic student standouts. Student enrollment in Band, Choir, and Art classes and in co- curricular performing arts activities grew.
Sustaining the Gains
Entering year four of the Studio grant, the Studio team is taking a hard look at determining the activities that can live on within the school community beyond the life of the grant.
South County Director Jim Boen and LPMS Principal Robi Phinney have indicated that strong enrollment in Beginning and Advanced Bend (90 students) and in Choir (80 students) will ensure that district funding can and will offer these programs. Essential instruments and equipment have been provided by Studio and community donated funds. Robi’s decision to drop 6th grade general music and to include incoming 6th graders directly into Band and Choir classes made the formation of two band classes possible. Band/choir teacher Michael Chavarin is budgeting for grant purchase this year and next music instrument and equipment to accommodate future program growth.
Growing student interest and strategic staff hires made it possible this year to increase Art class electives from one to three. As with band and choir, continued student interest and enrollment in these elective classes will maintain them.
The base of support for drama resources provided by Studio funding last year and revenue and student interest generated by last year’s musical prompted La Pine High School administrator Matt Montgomery to add an additional drama class to their school day. Matt and his staff believe they can, beginning this year, independently sponsor an annual musical without further support from Studio funds.
This year LPMS principal Robi Phinney is assigning an existing school extra duty stipend to a newly hired teacher who proposed establishing an ongoing middle school co-curricular drama club that will produce at least one annual production and establish a foundational drama experience specifically designed for middle school age students. Studio funds will help support supplies and equipment for this first production but it is anticipated that revenue from ticket sales should generate funding to support future productions.
Guitar instructor and professional musician, David Miller, plans to organize community concerts to support costs of weekly guitar classes for students.
The Sunriver Music Festival Board and Executive Director Pam Beezley are committed to supporting music education within the La Pine school community. They will continue to arrange every year for selected guest artists to perform at La Pine Middle School. They will also continue to offer scholarships to selected exceptional students eager to extend their educational opportunities.
Using Evaluation Data to Ensure Quality Programming
This year the Studio project is creating a comprehensive Studio to School Project Evaluation Plan.
The refining, gathering and analysis of student and program data will guide staff in making sure performing arts instructional experiences are successfully promoting student and staff goals and outcomes. Administrators and staff will integrate data generated to inform ongoing evaluation and instructional planning. Evaluation data will also inform annual budget and staffing decisions, assist in communicating information about the effectiveness of student progress and programming to the School Board and the public, and be useful in acquiring other supporting resources such as grants.
Narrowing the Focus
The first three years of the Studio project were spent adding back a core band program and initiating other performing arts student opportunities. Moving into years 4, 5 and 6 the Studio team, after considerable discussion and reflection, has concluded that to sustain program depth and quality, its focus must be on activities that have been or are becoming integrated into and supported by ongoing school operations – band, choir, art and drama.
The Studio team has observed that a key factor in our project’s success has been the strong commitment of the key staff, administrators and community partners who have worked together to promote the importance of arts education within the school. The first year, when no band teacher applied for our advertised position, Studio team member and choir teacher, Michael Chavarin, courageously volunteered to take on the work. His success moved him into a permanent position as band and choir instructor. His story is one of many in which individuals have gone above and beyond to make programs succeed.
Another key component of project success has been the flexibility of administrators and staff open to implementing schedule changes or other necessary operational adjustments. Robi’s decision to include 6th graders in traditionally 7th and 8th grade band and choir enabled her to create a desperately needed separate Advanced Band Class. Bus Barn supervisors created new transport options for students who wanted to attend co-curricular clubs but would have otherwise been excluded because they had no transportation home.
Best of all, during the past three years all of us at LPMS have watched students discover personal satisfaction in the creative arts as they developed performing arts talents they never before realized they had. New student leaders are emerging at the school. Multiple students have confided that they are now considering careers in the arts. Many had not before considered college, but their aspirations are changing as they realize the multitude of options that may be out there for them.
As always, our entire Studio team discussed and contributed ideas to the formulation of this Reflection. A draft was created and circulated for all to make suggestions and/or changes before it was posted.
We are excited about the adjustments and refinements we will make to our core programming during the coming year and those following.
On behalf of our students and the entire La Pine Middle School community we remain exceedingly grateful our community was selected to be part of the Studio to Schools work.