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Sebago Arts Festival

May 26, 2020

Unstoppable

Sebago Elementary School arts staff had plans to continue a school wide arts festival this spring but due to COVID-19 plans were halted. But music teachers Jenni Null and Lindsay Waller and art teacher Brenda McGuinness weren’t going to let that stop them from providing a virtual extravaganza and that they did! You can view Sebago Virtual Arts Festival. Thank you to Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader and instrumental music educator Jenni Null for sharing the story below.

In 2018, the town of Sebago withdrew from the Lake Region School District. I retired as the Fine Arts Coordinator in Lake Region that same year, (where we had a longtime history of a District Arts Festival), and brought the idea with me to the newly formed Sebago School District where I continued to teach instrumental music to fourth and fifth graders. Our new Art and Music teachers were totally onboard, so last year, we had a school wide Arts Festival to celebrate both Youth Art Month and Music-in-Our-Schools Month. The event was so well-received in the community that two years later in 2020 we wanted to keep the tradition going. COVID-19 was not going to stop us!
Our Visual Art teacher, having experienced the traditional festival last year, knew what to expect this time around. She was extremely organized  and took photos of class projects during the year. When COVID struck and we transitioned to remote learning, she had most of what she needed, with the supplement of some student work that was returned to her in April. She also had an ongoing relationship with professional artists in the town, one of whom is on our School Board, Wendy Newcomb, an accomplished painter. They kindly added their amazing work to our virtual festival.
The music piece was a bit more problematic. We normally would have an entire class playing recorders, and performances of the Chorus, Grade 4, and Grade 5 Bands. Now, however, that was not possible and we music teachers had to rely on individual performances from our students. As you might imagine, some were reticent about doing this, some were very enthusiastic, and others needed prodding. What I love about our performances here, is that they represent all levels and stages of readiness. Some are so polished, some not so much, but in the end this is so representative as to what a performance program is all about. It’s the continuum of progression in regard to skills. In this case, the students took the initiative to create and submit their videos on their own.
I will always remember this with a lot of nostalgia. Toward the end of the performance section is “Misty” performed by my former students now in 8th grade, and a mom of the twin boys who is a fifth grade teacher and accomplished musician in her own right. They are well known in the town of Sebago, and I view them as an inspiration to my current students as to what practice and perseverance can achieve.
The finale is by the accomplished dancer/mime artist, Karen Montanaro who lives in nearby Casco and has provided us with her expertise as a teaching artist in past years. Her performance, What a Wonderful World, seemed like the parting message we wanted to convey to our virtual audience. I hope you enjoy our show!

SEBAGO VIRTUAL ARTS FESTIVAL

2 comments

  1. Wonderful to see and hear! Thanks for sharing, Sebago Elementary!


  2. Thanks for your comment Catherine!
    ~Argy



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