Every year, Arches Academy puts on a school musical. Shows such as Seussical, Aladdin, and this year, The Wizard of Oz. Whether backstage or center stage, every single student at Arches Academy is involved, from our oldest 9th graders all the way down to our three-year-old preschool students.
The school musical is a huge endeavor, combining the herculean efforts of students, faculty, admin, parents, and other volunteers. Putting together a show doesn’t mean just learning a few songs and some dance steps. It includes blocking, set designing and building, lighting design, costume creation, make-up, backstage management, and more. Blood, sweat, and occasionally even tears (especially when it’s done and kids want to do one more show), go into creating the most spectacular school musical we can create.
So why do it? Why put in all this effort? Here are a few of the reasons why an all-school musical is part of an Arches Academy education:
An unequalled opportunity for school synergy. Over a hundred students and many moving parts must coordinate together to create a successful school play. Every single student, plus faculty and parents, all contribute and work together to create the show. Students work closely with other students that they may not have worked with closely before. Parents and teachers get to know each other and the students in new ways. The school play, perhaps more than anything else, is the perfect demonstration to the students that each participant doing their part and contributing to the whole creates something more amazing than they could have created alone.
Leadership and mentoring opportunities. In the school play, our middle schoolers down to our preschoolers are on stage together and work backstage together. This provides an opportunity for the older students to set an example for the younger students and be a leader and a friend to them. Youngest students rise to the occasion, following the examples of their older counterparts, and become leaders themselves. It’s amazing and heart-warming to see the long lasting cross-grade friendships that are made as all of our students have this chance to work together.
Part of the varied and engaged learning experience. At Arches Academy, our educational philosophy includes a hands-on, engaged educational experience in a variety of subjects. As parents are well aware, this means regular field trips to everywhere from Bryce Canyon and local parks to Alabama and Hawaii. In addition, this includes weekly mini-courses, where students can learn about a range of extra subjects, from skiing and archery to Polynesian dancing and sewing. A school musical is a vital and critical part of this varied, hands-on, and engaged experience. Backstage tech students get to learn from professional technicians in a professional theater setting, and performers have an exciting, developmental and learning experience they may never get again once they leave school. It is a vital part of an Arches education that this experience is provided to every student, from the oldest to the youngest.
“Intangible” values made a little more tangible. A student’s academic progress is at least somewhat possible to measure through tests and other assignments. But a student’s social and emotional well-being, while equally important, is much harder to tangibly measure. While parents and teachers who pay close attention are in tune with and have good instincts for their student’s emotional health, the school play is a chance for some concrete evidence of a child’s social and emotional progress. It provides an opportunity for our students to stretch themselves and expand their comfort zones. A student who feels isolated or unsafe will not be as prepared to be brave and vulnerable on stage. One of the most rewarding things faculty and staff at Arches regularly get to see are the students who come to Arches shy and insecure, who, within a few months, are singing solos in front of hundreds of parents and strangers. Social and emotional health must be balanced with the academic, and the school play is the best chance for that balance to allow students to shine.
Rewards of a job well done. We want Arches students to grow into well-equipped adults, highly educated, emotionally healthy, and prepared for an exciting future as leaders. Part of this preparation is a willingness and ability to tackle large, difficult tasks. And a school-wide play certainly qualifies. In the weeks of preparation leading up to the show, the hours can seem long, and the work hard. But by the end, every student has had the experience of seeing the reward of their labors--of tackling something that might have seemed overwhelming, and proving to themselves and to others that they can absolutely do it. After this experience, every student is better prepared to face the projects and tasks of their future with increased confidence.
For these reasons and more, the annual schoolwide musical is a vital part of an Arches Academy education. Call 801-374-5480 to learn more, or visit archesacademy.com to schedule a tour today!