Studio to School

Reflection 15: Cementing Commitment to High Quality Arts Learning in Sunriver/La Pine

Year 5 Highlights

Year 5 of the Sunriver/La Pine Studio Project reflects many achievements, most of which were unimagined in Year 1.  

  1.  An initial goal, expanding arts electives to include band, resulted in the creation of two band classes, beginning and advanced, maintenance of a strong choir program and the expansion from one to two robust Art classes.  All these electives reflect strong curricular programming and enthusiastic student enrollment, ensuring they will be supported into the future by the Bend-La Pine Schools.
  2. Integration of arts and the creative instructional process into regular curriculum classes allows students who lack space in their schedules for arts electives to access the arts in different ways.  Ukulele instruction occurs in AVID classes on Fridays.  Dance instruction is embedded into the P.E. instructional curriculum.  Project learning involving the arts is integrated into several social studies, science and language arts classes.
  3. Co-curricular clubs, including guitar, drama, cooking, coding and robotics, are organized into trimester offerings.  Short duration sessions offer students more flexibility to sample different exploratory interests throughout the year and to participate in more than one co-curricular activity.
  4. The La Pine High School Musical, begun in Year 3, continues again this year to be a focal school and community attraction.  Since Year 4 the musical, through fundraising, donations and ticket sales, has become financially self-sustaining.
  5. The May Evening of the Arts, showcasing middle school student music and arts products and performances, continues to be a highly anticipated school and community event. Proceeds from dinner tickets, refreshment sales and raffle baskets created by student homeroom “Nests” are moving this celebration closer towards self-sustaining financial status.

A Focus on Principle 5:  

Provide varied and high-quality opportunities for students to engage in arts learning.

  1.  Student centered approach

All arts instructional opportunities described above have been designed to emphasize a student-centered approach to learning.  Both electives and co-curricular offerings are refined in design and in scope to further student interest and skills in the arts and to amplify student voice and ownership of their learning.  Student work and performances are displayed at events throughout the year and presented collectively at the Evening of the Arts May celebration.  Of note is the high degree of communication, collaboration and pride among students as they work together to improve their skills for community performances.  Some students have never before worked with others as a creative group.  At first fearing public performance, most students are discovering the joy of appearing before real audiences.  The culture of the school and the La Pine community as a whole has changed from recognizing as student leaders those with athletic talent to also proudly celebrating student leaders in the arts. 

  • Varied, relevant opportunities

From an initial goal to establish a band program, encouragement from OCF leaders to think broadly beyond band resulted in the creation of many new arts instructional opportunities for all students in La Pine.  Multiple music and art elective classes, diverse co-curricular exploratory clubs and integrated arts instruction into regular curriculum offer many varied, relevant arts opportunities for all students.

The addition of an advanced band elective facilitates greater scaffolded instruction for individual students while maintaining rigorous curriculum goals.  Multiple public opportunities for students to perform and display their talents include arts displays, concerts, and attending music festivals.  Participation in these events furthers student ownership of their learning and supports the development of self-confidence and self-efficacy.  

  •  Reflection and response

The growth in number and quality of arts instructional opportunities encourages students to become more reflective about their own and others’ personal development. Higher curricular expectations push students to develop their creative talents beyond what was previously possible at the school prior to its participation in the Studio project. Working with others towards a group production or display inspires students to exceed their comfort zones and, as a result, to grow in self confidence in their abilities and in their expectations of personal acceptance from peers and the general public.  Multiple students, when interviewed, now state that their involvement in the arts has influenced their lives so deeply that they anticipate continuing with their art in their personal life choices or, in some cases, in their professional choices as they ponder career options.

Value of the Studio Principles

In Year 1 as the Studio Committee considered ways to expand student options in the arts, members questioned how to measure or to decide which activities would best result in high quality, enduring arts learning.  The need to establish band was evident, but where should we go from there?   The committee interviewed students and staff for ideas and possibilities.  Working through options, the committee considered which ones would best respond to students’ ideas, create options that could involve the most students, represent the most high-quality arts learning possible, and be sustainable into the future when Studio grant funding ended.

Into years 2 and 3 the committee continued to use these criteria, the measurable results we observed, and the support and guidance provided by OCF to guide project growth.

The emergence of Studio to School Principles and clarifying rubrics provided a new and very welcome tool by which to measure project activities to date and to forecast high quality next steps and goals.  OCF project activities guided our group’s expertise in learning to use the principles in everyday practice.  The Principles are helping to affirm positive practices already in place and to decide upon specific areas to strengthen and improve in the years that lie ahead once this grant expires.

The Sunriver/La Pine Committee and the groups we represent are proud to have been one of the eighteen projects that were part of process used to develop these extremely useful guiding principles.

Advice to Other Arts Education Developing Programs

Quality, equity and sustainability are key elements of any worthwhile educational project. Determining how to embed these qualities into programming is a challenge that requires many touchstones.  Every school and civic community is distinct. Individual students and their interests and talents are unique.  Resources vary.  High quality instructional content is measured differently, discipline by discipline. Developing programming to ensure high quality creative processing of the unique talents of each individual while maintaining subject area quality is most challenging!  Managing, preserving and growing such programming is even more so!

Identifying general principles of quality and defining what that looks like in everyday equitable and sustainable practice may be the most challenging touchstone of all! 

The Studio to School Principles and rubrics provide arts education guidelines useful to any education entity for arts programming planning, implementation and evaluation of these core goals.

Post Development

The development of this post involved recapping Studio Committee planning discussions and programming implementation work that occurred throughout the life of the grant.  This work was memorialized in meeting minutes and other documentation.  A draft was developed, incorporating ideas and actions of all committee members working in tandem with staff and community volunteers throughout the life of the grant.  This draft was was reviewed and edited by each of the five core Studio Committee members.  Input from their review was used to create the final post.


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