#JPSReads Comes Alive on Stage!

miii2248As a partnership to #JPSReads, the Junior High theatre department presents, James and the Giant Peach starting today and running through Sunday afternoon. We hope that families all over the district participated in the Read Aloud, JPSReads, earlier this school year and read the classic Roald Dahl story but if it’s new to you, don’t worry, it’s a heartwarming tale of an underdog you’ll love.

James is orphaned early in life and goes to live with his aunt who treats him as a servant, rather than a young boy. He soon meets a mysterious old man who offers him a magic bag of crocodile tongues that will make his life better. When James accidentally spills the tongues all over the ground, he is surprised to see an enormous peach grow on the sidewalk! The giant peach becomes a magical place of fantasy and friendship for James and, of course, you’ll need to read the book or buy a ticket this weekend to hear the rest!

miii2237When Director, Holly Florian, was anticipating this years musical, she considered the amazing batch of talent her students bring to the table. While the audience is aware that the actors on stage are junior high students, what they may not realize is that by the end of the weekend, the entire show is student-run. They are in charge of the lights, sound, stage management, direction, and set changes. They are assisted by a couple of high school students in their tasks but they act mainly in the role of mentor to these ambitious junior highers!

The cast auditioned back in mid-October and at the end of that month they began their rehearsals. Near showtime, they are rehearsing from 5-9pm every weeknight! Prior to the holiday break they have memorized all of their lines but Ms Florian encourages them from this point on to really let the characters become their own; to have fun with the lines and the story. She sees their potential and wants them to have the opportunitiy to shine as a result of their hard work and dedication.

miii2102Just like our high school students say year after year, Ms Florian believes that her students love being in the theatre program because it provides a sense of belonging and community. Students are able to meet new people and make friends with other students they may have never met otherwise. Because of this, she is especially pleased with the journey that James makes in this story. As the director, she is able to see the journey of students, their progress and self-confidence throughout the rehearsal season. By the end “it’s amazing to see how far they’ve come and that’s what this story is all about: self-confidence.”

If you’d like to see these talented students live, in action, you can purchase your tickets here. It’s a great opportunity to bring the book to life and remind your kids of the importance of and meaning found in reading and stories!

Break a leg, Junior High students! We know you will be incredible, not only this weekend, but always!

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JPS Puts Students on Display at the GRAM

Just before Thanksgiving, Bursley Elementary School 5th graders, Pinewood Elementary 5th graders and Jenison High School Introduction to Art Students in grades 9 – 12 had the unique opportunity to show their artwork at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). On a frigid Saturday afternoon, students, their families and Jenison community members enjoyed the creativity that comes when students are inspired by educators who are inspired by art.
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Today we talk to Mrs. Moynihan about this special afternoon:
How long have you been preparing for this gallery event?
Emily Derusha and I (Lindsay Moynihan) attended a professional development day at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Spring 2012. We were so inspired by the work of artist Robert Rauschenberg and the cost effective lessons the GRAM provided that tied into his work, that we decided we would try and collaborate on a project with our students. We worked on the lesson plan over the summer and finalized everything in December of last year. The lesson itself took our students close to one month to complete. We examined the work of Robert Rauschenberg and then learned several different art techniques that students were required to incorporate into a final mixed media piece of art.
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Why is showing at a gallery important for young artists? 
We have incredibly talented visual artists in our district, but art is a quiet subject, and as a result sometimes our program gains and individual student talents and accomplishments are not visible to the public. Showing at a gallery gives our students the opportunity to “perform” in a visible and recognized way, just as marching band is seen at half time shows, our athletes at games, and theater students in musicals. This experience validates them as the accomplished artists they are now and gives them a vision of possibility for the future.
Additionally, showing at the gallery in downtown Grand Rapids builds a connection between our Jenison and Grand Rapids communities. Art is one of the incredible commonalities of all people through all times, and this is one small example of communities coming together through art. To that end, we would like to thank the Bursley Parent Club for providing funding for the embroidery hoops that were used in the printmaking process as well as the Grand Rapids Art Museum for providing this amazing opportunity for our students.
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Student Kate Koning stands next to her artwork at the GRAM.

Student Kate Koning stands next to her artwork at the GRAM.

What do you hope your students (orJPS art kids) will take away from this event?
It is our hope that all of our art students who participated in this collaborative project are walking away with an appreciation for what goes into creating a piece of art. We also hope that they were inspired by Rauschenberg and his message of conservation as well as the creativity of their collaborators. For those who participated in the show at the art museum, we hope they were as proud of their accomplishments as we were, and that they have learned a little bit about the professional aspect of being an artist and putting together a show.
Our thanks to Emily Derusha and Lindsay Moynihan for their dedication to the visual arts and for taking the time to share their thoughts about this exhibit!

JPS Art Programs Win Gold

During a summer of Olympic excitement, the eyes of the world are turned to television screens everywhere, counting gold medals and rooting for the stars and stripes. What we may not realize is that gymnasts and sprinters aren’t the only hopefuls when it comes to winning.

Artists also compete, and over the past few years, Jenison has consistently been on the podium holding gold. To showcase the accomplishments of students from elementary school through senior high, teachers Emily Derusha and Lindsay Moynihan compiled the video you’ll see below. From Art Prize to Art Moves, our award-winning programs pull away from the crowd!

Just as athletes have multiple types and levels of competition, Jenison art students are involved with a variety of competitions each year:

  • MAEA (Michigan Art Education Association)
  • Region and State Show
  • Scholastic Art and Writing Awards
  • Debut Show at the Holland Area Arts Council
  • Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids
  • our own JPS Art Moves

Judging at each of these competitions involves an adjudication process under the trained eyes of professional judges. A “passing score” moves the piece onward and upward, eventually culminating in the work begin displayed at a gallery or museum with a full reception for the artist and his or her parents, family, and friends.

Mrs. Moynihan, an MAEA liaison, says that winning moments at galleries and museums, while applause-worthy, are only part of the story. The “small wins” she sees in her classroom on a daily basis begin when students who don’t think they’re “good at anything” begin to express an interest in art.

“I’m so passionate about the visual arts and feel so fortunate to be a part of such a strong program with amazing art educators. I’m just proud to be part of a program that is so supportive of the visual arts.”

Congrats to all the artists and teachers who so beautifully represent the Jenison Public Schools art program! For a complete list of competitions and winners from the 2011-2012 school year, please click HERE.