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Lights, Camera, Action

January 16, 2020

Nokomis Regional High School

Parent energy and initiative often bring teaching artists to schools to conduct workshops that supplement and support school arts programs. When invitations to those workshops extend to the community as well an interesting community/school arts link is created. And when the number of workshops reaches a grand scale and the invitation outreach is statewide, something truly newsworthy is going on.

Such a statewide program has been in place for the past three years at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, where Gretchen Gehrke, a Nokomis parent, who was inspired by a program at MIT and by the good work of Nokomis theater teacher Lisa Neal, initiated “Nokomis – Lights, Camera, Action!” (LCA) in partnership with the school’s theater program.

Below is the history and description of  “Nokomis Light’s Camera Action!” in Gretchen’s words, as well as Gretchen’s invitation to artists and students, and all those who want to be part of LCA in its fourth year, to join them in Newport on Tuesday, February 18th. Read on!   (There is a scheduled snow day makeup on Thursday 2/20 if necessary.)

Nokomis Lights Camera Action Grades K-12, 2020

Nokomis High School is located in rural Maine. Nearly 70% of RSU #19 students qualify for free lunch and yet our school system offers so much to our students.

 

Lisa Neal is the drama teacher for the high school. She is an exemplary and gifted teacher. She also runs a very successful drama club and show chorus. She is an inclusive leader. Her program changes lives. Here is a recent quote from an email I received from the parent of a now graduated student. “Lisa is an entity all unto herself… We were blessed with so many really good/great teachers for our daughter but Lisa takes that above and beyond. I saw how she changed lives for our young people. Literally! I do not know how she does it all.  She is a teacher, a mentor, a confidant, sub parent for many and a friend and it doesn’t stop at school or graduation. I see them coming back to her again and again. Our daughter’s class was her first in High School…. And that group of young people have gone on far beyond what they probably would have had it not been for her guidance along the way. Her classes are so much more than just the subject matter. Amazing!”

So, how in a rural and poor location do we support a teacher and program such as that directed by Mrs. Neal?

A recent Nokomis Drama Club production of Bye Bye Birdie involved nearly 25% of the Nokomis student body. Lisa does this with little or no budget. As I am, by nature, a facilitator, I saw a possible opportunity to help Lisa provide continued learning adventures for Nokomis students, as well as additional youth from Maine. Our children have been very fortunate to participate in the MIT Splash Program and in Young Americans. Based on those models the Nokomis Drama Club has begun offering a one-day Splash-like program, “Nokomis – Lights, Camera, Action!” (LCA), focused on dramatic arts during February break. We charge $25 per K-3 student and $50 for students grades 4-12. This fee includes a T-shirt costume and two meals. We allow for ample financial aid. We ask instructors from near and far away to donate an hour or two of their time and expertise to offer workshop classes like MIT Splash focused on the arts. There are classes during the day preparing songs for an evening performance such as Young Americans do in their program. The goal of this learning adventure and fund-raising effort is a combination of daytime drama workshop followed by an evening performance. We offer more than 50 workshops which support Artists, Actors, Authors, Chefs, and Athletes. One need not be interested in drama to enjoy a great learning adventure. As our local taxpayers, parents and school districts are struggling to such extent, it is critical for our program to seek support resources from outside our own RSU.

As with Splash at MIT, classes can reflect instructor’s passions. We offer a small free parent workshop as they do at MIT/Splash. We also offer art, knitting and yoga classes to parents.

We seek students and instructors from across the State of Maine and beyond. We hope that schools and communities support our novel program. Join us! Please do not exactly copy us rather share our day.

Join us, Tuesday, February 18th, 7:30am-8:00pm (K-3 until 12:30pm) at Nokomis Regional High School, located in Newport, Maine for the 4th Annual, Lights, Camera & Action program. This year we host the event at a brand-new Nokomis High/Middle School, 291 Williams Road, Newport, Maine (just across the road from the old school.)

Actors, Artists, Authors, Athletes, Chefs and Musicians, share a full day of workshops, rehearsals, and performance.

Students K-12 are welcomed and taught by qualified and enthusiastic instructors on a wide variety of fun topics. 2019 included over 50 workshop choices.

Following workshops, Grades K-3 concludes with a noontime performance and Grades 4-12 concludes with a 6:30pm performance “Final Act” which demonstrates some of the day’s accomplishments.

Learn More and Register @ www.nokomislightscameraction.com or Facebook Lights, Camera, Action.

What people have said:

“Thank you very much. We cannot believe that a program of this caliber exists in Central, Maine.”  – Parent from Brownfield, Maine

“It was such a full day with so many choices. My daughter can’t wait until next year.” – Parent from Pittsfield, Maine

“I learn skills that can help me with my everyday life with building things and every day communication working as a team.” – Maine Central Institute Student

Lisa Neal, drama teacher at Nokomis Regional High School, said the topics help to make learning. “They’re here having fun but what they really don’t know is that they are here learning. They are problem solving and they are thinking on their feet,” said Neal.

Nokomis Lights, Camera, Action involves participants from across the state of Maine as well as Massachusetts into New Brunswick, Canada. LCA welcome students from school district across Maine and New England.

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Art Dance

January 15, 2020

Lil Buck

This dance was created to celebrate an exhibit in Paris that included several modern artworks. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the moves this dancer, Lil Buck, made while moving through the exhibit.

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Director of Arts Education

January 14, 2020

Maine Arts Commission

The Maine Arts Commission is delighted to welcome Martha Piscuskas as our new Director of Arts Education. Martha brings 30 years of nonprofit organizational leadership alongside a deep understanding of the state’s issues. Most recently she was Executive Director at Waterfall Arts, the community arts center in Belfast that she co-founded in 2000. She has extensive experience in community arts education, developing programming for all ages and in collaboration with local schools. One of five siblings, all artists, with parents in secondary education, Martha grew up immersed in active creative inquiry. In addition to serving on her local school board, she has led and founded numerous Maine organizations including MaineShare, Maine Center on Economic Policy, and Maine Initiatives. Martha has presented nationally and served on multiple boards, including as the Chair of the Waldo County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, and the Chair of the New England Board of Haymarket People’s Fund. A member of the Zeta class of Leadership Maine, she holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Wesleyan University, and a BFA from the Maine College of Art. A longtime resident of Waldo County, Martha lives on a homesteading solar-run farm with her family.

Martha’s contact information: 287.2750  martha.piscuskas@maine.gov.

 

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Professional Membership

January 13, 2020

Organizations in Maine and beyond

Professional organizations provide many benefits. Below are a handful of organizations to consider when looking for opportunities to connect with colleagues. There are many more organizations at the local, state and national level that support arts education.

All the organizations include benefits to educators and students. Many of them are advocating for arts education. Online courses, research, curriculum units, journals, books, online conversations, professional development opportunities and much more.

If you’re not already a member of one or more of these consider joining in 2020.

 

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Keep it Moving

January 12, 2020

Twyla Thorp’s book

I love Ken Robinson’s story about choreographer Twyla Tharp and I’m excited to learn that Twyla’s new book is called Keep it Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life At age 78 she is talking about staying young, she is referring to the importance of staying healthy. She said. “If you want to have a future, you’ve got to provide for that now.” Twyla is a Tony-Award-winning choreographer and dance pioneer and this isn’t her first book. If interested, READ this piece from the New York Times to learn more.

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Americans Who Tell the Truth

January 11, 2020

New project

Americans Who Tell the Truth will select twenty (20) indigenous, immigrant, and rural middle level and high school youth (two from each of ten schools) to create their self-portraits and write companion narratives about an event, person, and/or belief that helped them become who they are today.  AWTT and Maine artist Robert Shetterly and Maine educator Connie Carter will work with them in a day-long workshop at the Center for Innovation in Education at Thomas College to help them begin their self-portraits and narratives. The workshop date will be between March 10-20, 2020 (exact date to be determined).

The workshop will include the students and accompanying teacher/s (art and other disciplines) from participating schools as well as pre-service teachers from Thomas College.  Students will begin their self-portraits and narratives and teacher participants will learn to coach these students in their creations of art and writing in order to support them when they return to their respective schools.  Hopefully, teachers will coach additional students in their respective schools in order to broaden the dialogues among indigenous, immigrant, and rural youth in Maine.  
Finished portraits will be displayed at the Samantha Smith Challenge Celebration at Thomas College on June 1 and also at the Maine State House in Augusta.  Portrait artists and their teachers will hopefully accompany their portraits to both of these events. Plans for additional exhibits are still to be determined.  
The primary goal of this project is to give a voice to a representative group of indigenous, immigrant, rural and marginalized youth in Maine with the intent of using their work as a way to initiate a dialogue about diverse Maine identities and the power of the arts to help inspire that conversation.  Additionally, we hope to give teachers the tools to use the arts as a valuable interdisciplinary tool to bring explorations of Maine’s history, economics, cultural identity, and landscape to the school curriculum.  
Please direct any questions and concerns you have about this project to Connie Carter at connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org.  Because initial participation in this project is limited, please let us know by January 24 if you are interested in being a part of this empowering opportunity by e-mailing connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org  
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Student Artwork Opportunity

January 10, 2020

2020 Inclusion Awards

The Maine Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC) recently put out a call for submissions for its 2020 Inclusion Awards, which celebrate extraordinary high school students who think deeply about issues of inclusion for people living with developmental disabilities. Open to all Maine high school juniors and seniors, the awards have two components: an Essay Contest and a Visual Arts Contest, which allow students to express these ideas as artwork.

Changing the Way We See by Sophia DeSchiffart, Creative Expression 1st Place Winner 2018

This year, students are asked to write essays or create two-dimensional artworks responding to the following prompt: “What does the full inclusion of individuals with developmental disabilities mean to you?”

The experience of participating in these contests has been a rewarding one for both teachers and students. “The contest allowed me to have the ability to express myself while standing up for others and hopefully having an impact within the community on how people interact with someone with developmental disabilities,” writes Madison Landry, a participant in 2019. Linda Garcia, an educator at Hodgdon High School says, “By participating in the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council’s Inclusion Awards, my students become advocates for a special segment of communities across Maine and beyond. Through their participation, my students share stories about inspiring individuals who make our world a more beautiful place.?

The deadline for entries is Monday, February 3, 2020, and educational awards range from $250 to $1,000 for individual entries. Teachers and schools will also have an opportunity to win educational grants to support their commitment to educating their students on the value of inclusion.

The MDDC is a partnership of people with disabilities, their families, and agencies that identifies barriers to community inclusion, self-determination, and independence. MDDC is committed to creating a Maine in which all people are valued and respected because the council believes communities are stronger when everyone is included.

For more information, contest rules and entry guidelines, visit maineddc.org/inclusion, email maineddcom@gmail.com. or call Jessica Gorton at 287.4215.

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