New Performance Space Gives Students the Opportunity to ShineConcordia Lutheran School has experienced a renewed arts focus due to the completion of Wolf Arena, a multipurpose space that serves as a theatre, worship space, and gym. For the school, the arena is the catalyst behind a revitalized arts focus—with students gaining more opportunities to perform, make art, and experience integrative lessons that combine the arts into everyday learning experiences.Angie Owen, an art and 5th grade teacher, has been at Concordia Elementary for 29 years and has seen firsthand how the arts are experiencing a resurgence at the school.“The arts focus is something we had and lost, and now we’re getting it back,” Mrs. Owen notes.
With the addition of a new multipurpose space and more staffing, including one art and two music teachers, the arts at Concordia are flourishing.Mrs. Owen brings a wealth of creativity and teaching experience to her classes by collaborating with history and language arts teachers for an interdisciplinary approach to art. Students studying ancient Egyptian mummies in 6th grade create a sarcophagus and burial treasures out of clay and paint.Seventh graders write fairy tales in language arts class and then create a movie using iMotion. Around Christmas, students paint sets for the school musical, learning the basics of set design. This collaborative approach allows students to immerse themselves in learning about a topic while exploring their creative side, which has the benefit of helping students think differently about life.“The arts are important because it gives kids time to creatively think, which is another focus of growth,” Mrs. Owen adds. “If we’re getting rid of the arts, we’re not developing that.”For Concordia’s music teachers, Rachael Hartmann and Becky Rohde, music is a way to include all kids and help them find their strengths.
“The arts give self esteem and confidence,” Miss Hartmann, the 5th-8th grade music teacher notes. “It’s important to make students feel important and included.”Mrs. Rohde, who teaches K-4th grade music adds, “Music brings out their creativity. They have a triumphant sense of accomplishing something. I want them to feel the joy of what they’re singing.”The K-4th grade choral music program teaches students through natural speech and movement exercises, including playing Orff instruments and learning poems.Miss Hartmann also directs the musical theatre productions, including a Christmas musical and middle school spring musical.“Middle school is such a tough age,” Miss Hartmann says. “Theatre opens up a whole new world to them. They can be onstage and part of something, even if they’re not good at sports. No one sits on the bench in theatre.”
These experiences impact students positively, helping them learn self-confidence and poise in front of others, while giving them opportunities for self-expression and other brain benefits. A recent article noted how musical training provides advantages for children's emotional and behavioral maturation, providing more evidence of the importance of art and music in our schools.With the addition of Wolf Arena, there is more room for seating at performances and a large stage for productions.“We’re blessed to have the arena and the opportunity to perform in there,” Miss Hartmann concludes.But the real winners are the students impacted for a lifetime by the arts experiences at Concordia Lutheran School, where the renewed arts focus is opening the door to new opportunities.