A national benchmark in
Educational excellence through integration of the arts

Posts Written By: erin

15 Years of Shakespeare in the Valley!

15 Years of Shakespeare in the Valley!

FIFTEEN YEARS OF SHAKESPEARE IN THE VALLEY:
AN ARTSPACE JOURNEY – John Hall, 6th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher

I began my teaching job at ArtSpace Charter School in the fall of 2003, after almost three years teaching at West McDowell Junior High.  Before I became a teacher, I worked in professional theatre as an actor, director and producer.  Through my experience with children’s theatre, I experienced the power of creative dramatics with young people. When I began teaching at ArtSpace, a school dedicated to integrating the arts with the standard course of study, I knew I could utilize my theatre background in the classroom.  So, in my first year as a language arts and social studies teacher at ArtSpace I worked with our drama specialist Josh Batenhorst to introduce the works of William Shakespeare to sixth and seventh grade.  Why Shakespeare? Integrating the plays of William Shakespeare into the language arts and socials studies curriculum allowed me to teach figurative language, poetry and storytelling to students within a historical and social context, and it allowed our drama specialist to teach the theatre arts curriculum as well. Plus, it was fun!

Female student standing next to an older man with a clipboard on a stage

Mr. Hall giving notes to a student in the 2015-2016 production of The Merry Wives of Windsor

Our first productions, Hamlet (7th grade) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (6th grade) took place in my classroom.  We used shortened versions of the plays, with slightly altered translations of the text to make them more accessible to students. It was a challenging endeavor, to say the least, though ultimately a success and the feedback from students, families and staff encouraged me to continue the yearly project.  Since ArtSpace, a fairly new school in the early 2000’s, didn’t yet have its own theatre, the next few years we rented spaces from local venues such as NC Stage Company, Belk Theatre at UNCA and The Asheville School to perform our Shakespeare plays.  Our productions grew in ambition, and students even performed scenes for a retirement home in nearby Black Mountain.  After a few years, Josh (Captain Josh as we all called him) challenged me to drop the slightly-altered versions and have students perform the true Shakespearean texts. Working solely with sixth graders at that point, I was concerned students might struggle with the difficult words, but ultimately agreed that the beauty of Shakespeare’s imagery and writing was worth the struggle.  It was a wise move, and the experience of hearing Shakespeare’s soaring language coming from our students was magical.

In our new theatre space that opened in 2008, sixth graders have tackled such plays as Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, MacBeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry V, As You Like It and The Comedy of Errors (set in the Star Wars universe no less!)  Captain Josh left ArtSpace a few years ago, but our current drama specialist Beth Lexa has continued working with sixth grade to bring Shakespeare’s plays to the stage.

Two female middle school students standing on stage wearing Elizabethan clothing

From the 2016-2017 production of The Merchant of Venice

Not only does utilizing Shakespeare’s works enable me to teach language and oral expression in a historical context, the plays are also able to be used as vehicles to address social and ethical issues.  For example, last year’s sixth graders performed The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew, two highly controversial plays – Merchant for its anti-Semitism, and Shrew for its sexism.  Because I knew we’d be performing these plays in March, I began the school year focusing on the theme of “status” and how ancient cultures developed social systems based on levels of status, often regarding gender. Furthermore, when we began preparing for our plays, students conducted interviews with family members regarding moments in their lives when they were aware of status, and how that awareness affected them. The results of these family conversations were astounding. Parents and grandparents related experiences of gender inequality and racial profiling, among other memories.  Students also studied the history of anti-Semitism and how it spread over Europe and eventually the U.S. In fact, at the same time students were rehearsing The Merchant of Venice, the U.S. saw an uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes.  Though not always pleasant, this exploration of status in ancient cultures and our own society deepened students’ understanding of the two plays they were performing as well as the human proclivity for exclusion and alienation.

What has been the legacy of fifteen years of Shakespeare in the Swannanoa Valley? Former students and parents of former students relate stories of how their experiences with Shakespeare’s plays in sixth grade at ArtSpace positively affected their lives.  Several former students are still performing on stage in high school and college, and tell us that their love of theatre and performance began with their sixth grade Shakespeare plays. Though our yearly Shakespeare plays have given students the opportunity to develop a love of performing, they’ve also given struggling students an opportunity to experience success where they haven’t in traditional academics. Some of my best memories from the Shakespeare plays have been when struggling students or students with special needs were able to achieve success and receive positive feedback from peers.  The confidence these students received from their success in the plays stuck with them, affecting other areas of their learning and their lives.  These memories are most gratifying.

So, as March approaches, ArtSpace sixth grade is once again in preparation for our Shakespeare plays. As in 2003, our plays will be Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  To quote from Hamlet, “The play’s the thing!”

This article can also be found online at the Black Mountain News

 

8th Graders at ArtSpace Make Chemistry Visual

8th Graders at ArtSpace Make Chemistry Visual

An example of an elemental trading card

All across North Carolina 8th grade students learn about the basics of chemistry, as it is a major focus of the NC Essential Science Standards.  Students explore the periodic table of elements, what the labels mean, and how the table is organized. Students also investigate the structure of an atom and the types of atomic bonds, as well as the basics of a balanced chemical equation after a reaction.

At ArtSpace Charter School 8th graders discover, think deeply about, and experiment with these concepts through several visual arts projects facilitated by their teacher Nick Rogowski.  One of these projects is to represent the properties, and atomic information of a specific element, by producing an elemental trading card. After exploring the information presented about each element presented in the periodic table, the students research the origins and organization of the periodic table.  To assess their understanding Mr. Nick assigns a painting in which students create artistic metaphors to represent the categories and organization of the Periodic Table.

Organization of the periodic table painting

Brochure about different types of molecular bonds

Next students move beyond the elements to an exploration of molecular bonds.  Students create a “travel

brochure” to solidify their understanding. One of the final concepts students investigate in 8th-grade chemistry is the “balancing of elements” after a chemical reaction.  8th graders at ArtSpace observe the work of sculptor Alexander Calder and create mobiles of balanced chemical equations.

Certainly, all of this science could be studied in a textbook, and a few short answer questions might suffice to assess basic understanding of this unit, but students at ArtSpace create connections between science and visual art, which helps solidify deeper understanding, as well as allowing them to be creative as they demonstrate their knowledge. Through visual art projects teacher Nick Rogowski has also required his students to synthesize the information they have learned at a much more sophisticated level than short answer questions ever could.  That’s the power of arts integration!

Examples of Alexander Calder inspired balanced equation mobiles

 

 

ArtSpace Community Thankful for Playspace Improvements

ArtSpace Community Thankful for Playspace Improvements

Over the years at ArtSpace, our outdoor space has evolved from very humble beginnings to the large multi-use space it is now.  Some of this change has happened gradually, with the driving force of dedicated staff members and parent volunteers. Seasoned staff members Lyn Van Over and Darlene Dimenna can recount many of the herculean tasks accomplished under their guidance and with the support of our community.

Students enjoy spinning on the new merry-go-round

Recently, however, due to a combination of unfortunate and much more fortunate events, outdoor spaces at ArtSpace have achieved a level beyond the imaginings of those first families who made up the ArtSpace Community.

At the close of the 2014-15 school year, ArtSpace won a playground sweepstakes that amounted to some expensive playground equipment, and a $15,000 cash prize to be spent on the outdoor space in a way that would encourage physical fitness. A hard surface court was created in part due to this influx of funds.

In the 2015-16 school year, ArtSpace experienced a flood that “was bad . . . really bad” in the words of ArtSpace’s loyal, multi-tasking building manager, Thomas Solesby.  P.A.C.E., the governing board of the school, and administrators were aware of the possibility of flood damage being great and consultations as well as planning were underway to create a solution, but the funds needed were also a factor.

Due to a devoted community, ArtSpace received thousands of dollars in donations after the flood.  Along with our insurance settlement and money withdrawn from reserve funding, the necessary engineering was undertaken to ensure that ArtSpace wouldn’t experience another catastrophic flood event.  That process required the removal of a lot of earth from around the building, which was relocated across the street to the field and playground areas.  This was a blessing in disguise, creating the ability for a track to be created around the field, as well as expanding the play space for more equipment.

The new spider web located east of the swings

This is when F.A.C.E. (Foundation for the Arts at the Core of Education) stepped in with funds from our 2nd Act ArtSpace Community Thrift Store.  The store, which opened during the 2015-16 school year, has been a huge success under the management of Robin Allred, and support of the F.A.C.E. board.  The Thrift Store was launched with the purpose of creating an income stream for the school, as well as a community resource for the Swannanoa Valley at large.

With some of the profits made in the 2016-17 school year, F.A.C.E. funding helped to purchase and install the merry-go-round, rope web, and climbing cube just east of the swings.  Students have really enjoyed having the added equipment on which to climb and spin. Veteran staff members are grateful that people continued to fight for their vision of enhanced play spaces for the students at ArtSpace.  The development of the outdoor spaces at ArtSpace has far surpassed any original plans.  The school is so thankful that F.A.C.E. considered the play needs of the students and invested in this new equipment.  ArtSpace is also so very thankful for the entire community who have supported the store through donations, purchases, and volunteer hours and would like to offer a big thank you to everyone involved!

Red Meander Project and Old Depot Association

Red Meander Project and Old Depot Association

ArtSpace Charter School  is once again grateful for the support of The Old Depot Association of Black Mountain for supporting a public works project that is an homage to the mountain valley in which the school is located. In the 2016-17 school year Visual Art Specialist Jocelyn Reese applied for and received a grant from the Association for the supplies to create an outdoor art piece inspired by the fiber artist Anni Albers.

Ms. Jocelyn felt an exterior breezeway supported by horizontal joists outside the arts wing lent itself perfectly to creating an art piece inspired by the weaving Red Meander, by Anni Albers.  The installation features rows of color on 25 joists that have been painted to mimic Albers’ design.   Anni Albers was a professor at the famed Bauhaus in Germany before its forced close.  She and her husband Joseph were professors at the arts based Black Mountain College from 1933-1949.

Ms. Jocelyn is eager to use this large scale visual work to teach students about weaving elements, geometry, rhythm and unity.  Of course this piece offers students, and other members of the community an example of local art history as well.  The installation was painted by ArtSpace parent and local artist Lara Nguyen and several of her students from Warren Wilson College.

In addition to paint supplies, Ms. Jocelyn requested funds to create signs that explain the significance of the installation, pay homage to Anni Albers, as well as thanking those who made the installation possible. ArtSpace is grateful to Lara, her students and to The Old Depot for supporting this project.

The ArtSpace Community is thankful for the continued support from the Old Depot Association over the years.  Students have had many varied arts opportunities from visiting artist experiences to hands on arts projects due to the dedication of the Association.

The Old Depot Association will be hosting the 20th annual juried art show “Art on the Tracks” on Sutton street, October 28th,

ArtSpace Dominica Relief Drive

A note from Ms. Andrea…

 Wow! Every donation to Dominica has added up to almost 2 barrels of food and supplies (each over 220 lbs.) for this Caribbean nation in need of our help. During their time of relief and support, the island community that welcomed me as a “local” is truly grateful for our efforts. And I’m sure we can fill 2 more barrels this week….tarps, baby supplies, and hygiene items are the focus. Tarps can be “gently used,” as long as they are in good condition- just drop them in one of the blue containers. Other small necessities such as roofing screws, zip ties, and duct tape are vital for temporary shelters and repairs. Baby food, formula and diapers are also in high need.

Thank you, ArtSpace families and community, for your continued generosity!

 

This Week @ ArtSpace – October 8, 2017

Reminder of the week: Students have a chance to eat on half days.  Please make sure they have a snack to tide them over before picking them up at dismissal. We have several students coming to the office for a snack on half days.

Our “Better Bodies, Better Minds” Pledge Drive starts next week after our Pep Rallies on Tuesday, October 17th.  Please look for more emails about how to pledge as we get closer.  The pledge drive leads up to our Fun Run on Friday, October 27th (date correction: the first email said October 24th).

Fall…’tis the season for for smiling faces.  Strawbridge studios will be at school on Tuesday, October 10 for individual student portraits.  Choose your packet with the envelope provided and return it to your classroom teacher.  Or you can  pay online at:   strawbridge.net, enter our school code 101348 for options.   All students get their picture taken even if you choose not to purchase a packet.  This is a fundraiser for our school and creates lasting memories

This is the last week to take advantage of the Scholastic Online Book Fair! If you didn’t make it on campus to shop the book fair use this link. The selection is much larger. Books purchased online still benefit the ArtSpace library.  The online fair runs through Thursday, October 12th.

It’s Box Tops submission time! You might have noticed that many Box Tops have a November 1st expiration date. Turn in your Box Tops to the minion mailbox in the main hallway leading into school by Friday, October 27 so they can be included in our school’s fall check. Thanks for helping! Every year Box Tops bring in nearly $1000 for ArtSpace!! So don’t let yours expire! Turn them in before the deadline!!

Help ArtSpace help the island nation of Dominica devastated by Hurricane Maria. Ms. Andrea of kindergarten lived there prior to joining the ArtSpace Community.   Please follow this Schoolwide Service Project to help the people of Dominica.docx  for a list of items you can bring into ArtSpace to help support their recovery efforts.

Registration for East Asheville Youth Basketball Season is now open.  This program is available to students in K-8th grade.  For more information follow this link.

Jungle Book, Kids tickets will be available in the front office this week.  Shows are Nov. 3rd and 4th at 6 PM and Nov. 5th at 2 PM.  Adults/$12, children/$8, under 5 admission is free.  The cast and crew have been working hard to make it a great show.

This Week

10/9 – Mr. Hall’s homeroom to WWC, 1:00-4:00

10/10 – Fall Picture Day; Flag Football game, Evergreen vs. ArtSpace, 4:15 @ArtSpace

10/11 – Half day, Noon dismissal; 6th grade folktale plays, 9:30

10/13 – Kindergarten, 2nd and 4th grade to Diana Wortham Theatre for DIAVOlO, 9:00

Upcoming Events

10/17 – Better Bodies Better Minds Pep Rallies, K-4, 1:15, 5-8, 2:00, Dine Out for ArtSpace, Lucky Otter, 11:30-9:30; Flag football game: ArtSpace vs. The Learning Community, 4:15 @ The Learning Community School, PACE Board Meeting, 6:00

10/18 – 5th grade to AMOS, 9-12:30; Theatre Elective performance for 7/8,10:35, for K-6, 2:00, Evening performance, 6;

10/20 – Adopt-A-Street Azalea Road Clean Up, 9-10

This Week @ ArtSpace – October 2, 2017

Reminder of the Week: If you arrive early for dismissal please turn off your vehicle until dismissal begins.

Fall…’tis the season for for smiling faces.  Strawbridge studios will be at school on Tuesday, October 10 for individual student portraits.  Choose your packet with the envelope provided and return it to your classroom teacher.  Or you can  pay online at:   strawbridge.net, enter our school code 101348 for options.   All students get their picture taken even if you choose not to purchase a packet.  This is a fundraiser for our school and creates lasting memories

If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to fill out the ArtSpace volunteer survey. Remember we ask all families to commit 20 hours of volunteer time each year. This survey helps us keep our volunteers organized so we can contact you for projects that are in your “wheelhouse”.  The survey is available at this link.

Art by Me order forms coming home soon.  This is ArtSpace’s primary fundraiser for our visiting artist program.  Art By Me, Inc. offers a unique way to transform your child’s artwork into beautiful, professionally made products, such as t-shirts, note cards, calendars and so much more. Please look for a proof of your child’s reproduced artwork accompanied by an order form from Art By Me, Inc.  The products available make great gifts for the upcoming holiday season. The pride the kids take in seeing their work reproduced and used by family members is pretty amazing and is an added benefit to this fundraiser.  If you have any questions about this project please email Ms. Jocelyn- gro.retrahcecapstranull@eseer.nylecoj.

Ms. Beth in the library would like to thank everyone for supporting the Fall Book Fair. This fundraiser was a big success and will result in many new books for the library. Thank you for helping the library grow! If you didn’t make it on campus to shop the book fair use this link. The selection is much larger. Books purchased online still benefit the ArtSpace library.  The online fair runs through Thursday, October 12th.

Ms. Tami our AfterCare Coordinator is looking for folks interested in teaching an AfterCare class 2nd quarter.  If you have an idea for a class please follow this link to fill out our class submission form.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact gro.retrahcecapstranull@nosdigam.imat.

This Week

10/2 – Ms. Mary’s class on Field trip, 9:00-2:30; Mr. Eric’s class to Grandad’s Apples, 9:00-2:00
10/3 – Flag Football, ArtSpace vs. New Classical Academy, 4:15 @ Buncombe County Sports Park
10/4 – Ms. Katy’s homeroom field trip to Warren Wilson, 1:00-4:00
10/5 – Directors and Donuts, 8:30 in the library; Flag Football, Rainbow Community vs. ArtSpace, 4:15 @ ArtSpace.
10/6Fall Fling Middle School Dance, 3:40- 5:40

Upcoming Events

10/9 – Mr. Hall’s homeroom to WWC, 1:00-4:00
10/10 – Fall Picture Day; Flag football game, Evergreen vs ArtSpace, 4:15 @ArtSpace
10/11 – Half day, Noon dismissal; 6th grade folktale plays, 9:30
10/13 – Kindergarten, 2nd and 4th grade to Diana Wortham Theatre for DIAVOlO, 9:00

 

This Week @ ArtSpace – September 25, 2017

Reminder of the Week: Slow Down!  Even if you’re running a little late, PLEASE drive slowly through the parking lot and in the neighborhood when you are leaving.  Our families and neighbors thank you.

If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to fill out the ArtSpace volunteer survey sent home last week. Remember we ask all families to commit 20 hours of volunteer time each year. This survey helps us keep our volunteers organized so we can contact you for projects that are in your “wheelhouse”.  The survey is available at this link.

Help ArtSpace earn cash by clipping Box Tops from products and dropping them in the minion mailbox in the main hallway leading into school! Each one is worth 10¢ and our school can use the cash for whatever it needs. See a list of products at this link. Thank you to all of the families who have already turned in Box Tops to the minion mailbox found on the bulletin boards in the hallway to the left of the office.

A big thank you to everyone for helping with Ms. Meg and Ms. Melissa’s DonorsChoose grants; both grants have been funded! We appreciate any and all help with these grants.  They make a world of difference in the classrooms.

Scholastic Book Fair is happening this week on campus, with later hours on Monday and Tuesday for Open House shopping opportunities.  If you can’t make it on campus to shop the book fair use this link. The selection is much larger. Books purchased online still benefit the ArtSpace library.  The online fair runs through Thursday, October 12th.

This Week

9/25 – K-4 Open House, 5:00-6:30, Book Fair in Theater, 9:00-6:30
9/26 -Flag Football game vs. Francine Delany @ Buncombe County Sports Park, 4:15; 5-8 Open House, 5:00-6:30;  Book Fair in Theater, 9:00-6:30
9/27Book Fair in Theater, 9:00-5:00
9/29No School, Teacher Workday.

Upcoming Events

10/2 – Ms. Mary’s class on Field trip, 9:00-2:30; Mr. Eric’s class to Grandad’s Apples, 9:00-2:00
10/3 – Flag Football, ArtSpace vs. New Classical Academy, 4:15 @ Buncombe County Sports Park
10/4 – Ms. Katy’s homeroom field trip to Warren Wilson, 1:00-4:00
10/5 – Directors and Donuts, 8:30 in the library; Flag Football, Rainbow Community vs. ArtSpace, 4:15 @ ArtSpace.
10/6Fall Fling Middle School Dance, 3:40- 5:40

This Week @ ArtSpace – September 18, 2017

Another Note from Ms. Lori– Parents, you are reminded again that all visiting adults in the building must sign in and wear a badge. Unfortunately, we have parents who continue to disregard this expectation. It is uncomfortable for you and for staff members when we have to ask you to return to the front desk to sign in at the office. Please do so each and every time you come into the school

At this point in the school year students should be walking to their classroom without a parent. Please say your goodbyes at the door if you walk them up to the building. We will continue to be diligent in our attempts to know who is in the building at all times.  We thank you for your support in our efforts to ensure the safety of our students.   – Ms. Lori

Reminder of the Week: The lost and found is emptied the last Friday of each month.  There is a Lost and Found in the south wing (multipurpose room) and in the north wing commons area.

The Scholastic Fall Book Fair will be set up in the theatre this Friday. Our biggest fair of the year (double fair including both elementary and middle school fairs) has a western theme so we are encouraging students to dress up in their western wear this Friday, September 22nd. No pretend or real weapons please! More information about the fair and the online fair, which also benefits the school, is located at:  http://www.scholastic.com/bf/artspacecharterschool1

Do you shop at Ingles? Don’t forget we sell Ingles gift cards in $50 and $100 increments with %5 percent of that going directly to ArtSpace. Please purchase your gift cards from the front office.  If you already shop at Ingles this is an easy way to support ArtSpace.

Help ArtSpace earn cash by clipping Box Tops from products and dropping them in the minion mailbox in the main hallway leading into school! Each one is worth 10¢ and our school can use the cash for whatever it needs. See a list of products at this link. Thank you to all of the families who have already turned in BoxTops to the minion mailbox found on the bulletin boards in the hallway to the left of the office.

This Week
9/19 – Flag Football game: ArtSpace vs. Franklin School of Innovation at ArtSpace, 4:15
9/20 – Half Day, Noon Dismissal Dine Out for ArtSpace @ Taco Temple, 11:30-9:00
9/21Kindergarten field trip to Sky Top Orchard, 8:30-3:00
9/22 Book Fair in Theater, 9:00-5:00, Western themed clothing day to celebrate the book fair,

Upcoming Events
9/25 – K-4 Open House, 5:00-6:30, Book Fair in Theater, 9:00-6:30
9/26 -Flag Football game vs. Francine Delaney at Buncombe County Sports Park, 4:15; 5-8 Open House, 5:00-6:30;  Book Fair in Theater, 9:00-6:30
9/27Book Fair in Theater, 9:00-5:00
9/29 – No School, Teacher Workday.