The Arts at St. Margaret’s Creating New Opportunities for Expression and Creativity

By Darcy Rice, Director of the Arts

The Arts at St. Margaret’s is pleased to announce our Fall and Winter programming for the 2020-2021 school year. Our dedicated and talented teaching artists have prepared for virtual and hybrid learning to create new opportunities for students. Not only have they developed creative instruction, they have prepared the instructional spaces for use throughout the school day. We have plans to preserve physical distancing and have worked with each of the divisions to create small groups for instruction. 

Our All-School accompanist, Adela Kwan, brings music enrichment to every student from Early Childhood School through Upper School so students continue to reap the benefits of music instruction. In the Lower School, music instruction continues with Zach Hanna instructing in 32 locations throughout the division each week. Our directorial team, Stacey Miles, Chris Carbajal and Linling Hsu, collaborate to create music theory lessons for grades 4 and 5. In Middle School, cohorts of students rotate through experiences in the arts, including personal fitness and wellness in the dance studio and the McGregor Family Theater, and percussion study in the band room. It is heartwarming to observe students in the morning arriving with stringed instruments, including violin and viola, eager to attend class in Ms. Hsu’s orchestra class. Upper School students are collaborating in cinematic arts and acting, a new course, to produce “Radio Hour” projects combining screenwriting and editing using professional-level software. 

Beyond the school day, the Middle School musical auditions saw more than 40 students enthusiastically submit audition videos for consideration to be cast in the entirely virtual production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. This production will be directed by Dan Pacheco, assistant directed by Cori Samskey and musically directed by Mrs. Miles. As Mr. Pacheco said, “When parents heard there was going to be a Middle School musical, they actually were emotional.” They expressed how having a creative outlet and the opportunity for collaboration is an important highlight of their student’s school experience. Mr. Pacheco says, “Our goal is for the students to have the same experience in the production process that they would have if it were happening on campus. The benefit of being virtual is that we can stay on course and the students can sing as they will be rehearsing in the privacy of their homes.” 

As you can see from our list of upcoming events, we are moving ahead with productions whether virtual or in-person. The Upper School play will be an in-person experience with virtual accommodations also available. Part of what the arts allows us to do is to navigate through uncertainty. We have a clear vision for moving forward through these times, and we will work together to be creative in how we meet the challenges. Our purpose is to further the students on their artistic journeys. We will continue to introduce them to the fundamentals of the art forms, and guide them as they view their work in the arts as a journey, not a destination. Whether in person or online, students will continue to learn through direct instruction and active practice, rehearsal and performance. 

At St. Margaret’s, the arts are an integral and essential component of every student’s education. Our focus is on how arts education helps build better human beings. The arts connect students to other people and cultures. The arts build bridges between people and emphasize what it means to be human. One of the most important outcomes of arts education is increased empathy for others who are different from us, which continues to be more important than ever before. The transforming power of the performing arts thrives during challenging times. In fact, creative pieces in music, film, dance and drama, help us endure and inspire us along difficult paths.

I am so proud of the Arts team and excited for what this year promises. Whether it is the dedication of our Film teacher Karen Bennett personally delivering tripods to her students’ homes over the weekend to allow them to film for the All American High School Film Festival competition, or Technical Director and Resident Designer Gordon Richins teaching 3D modeling and drafting to his grade 8 theater tech arts students, I am inspired daily by the successful endeavors of my colleagues in the Arts.
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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