Posts Tagged ‘Freeport High School’

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Freeport High School Theatre

November 3, 2020

Antigone Now

At the end of October Freeport High School theatre program created something pretty special! Everyone felt the success and benefits from students and staff to administration and the community.

I met Natalie Safely about 3 years ago when she and dancer Nancy Salmon worked together after receiving a dance grant from the Maine Arts Commission. Natalie is the theatre teacher at Freeport High School. I had a chance to chat with Nancy last week and she mentioned the work that Natalie did this fall. I was impressed!

At our first meeting in the spring of 2019 I visited Freeport High School to learn more about the dance residency and the teaching and learning underway. I immediately noticed Natalie was an outstanding collaborator! This fall Natalie worked with Nate Menifield, Zoe Konstantino, and Ben Potvin and Freeport students and in five weeks they put together and performed the play Antigone Now. It is a GREAT example of the amazing work that takes place when we collaborate and focus on the pathway and possibilities! Looking at the file of photos taken by parent Ingrid van Duivenbode illustrates the magic of the performance. It was performed outside practicing appropriate pandemic safety abiding by the CDC guidelines.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

Antigone Now, by Melissa Cooper was performed by Freeport High School’s Theatre Arts program on October 23, 24, 25. Nancy Salmon was fortunate to attend and she said: “My husband and I saw the 2nd night of Antigone Now at Freeport High School, tucked into a U-shaped alcove outdoors. We were SO impressed by and proud of the students (on “stage” and tech), the directing staff and the administration who made this COVID-safe, live performance of quality, resonating theater a welcome relief from Zoom.

They had to keep the cast and crew under 50 in order to be able to rehearse indoors.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

I am grateful to Natalie that she took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

How did you come up with the idea to perform outside?

When schools closed last March, we were working on two different productions. As the days became weeks, and the weeks became months, we soon realized that our stage, like thousands of others, would remain dark. We didn’t know when we would be able to perform again. During a socially distanced walk with a friend, I was explaining how we couldn’t do a musical, how we can’t dance, and on and on. She said, “Natalie, why don’t you do a play with masks?” I was too close to the situation. I was focused on all of the things we couldn’t do instead of focusing on the things we could do! Sometimes, we get in our own way. When we are able to look outside ourselves: other perspectives, other options, other interpretations, the impossible becomes possible. With perseverance and flexibility we were able to create a live piece of theatre that six months ago seemed impossible.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

What did it involve taking the performance out of doors?

In two words: Ben Potvin…It was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. The first challenge was agreeing where on campus we could put up a set that had access to power, where cars would not drive by and where we would not be competing with sporting events and practices. When we finally agreed on a location, then came the logistics of building a moveable set. Once we got into tech week the lighting and sound had to be set up and taken down each night. We set up the soundboard in a classroom that acted like a booth where the stage manager called the cues, sound board op and spot operator ran their cues from there, however we had to set the light board up in a different location because we couldn’t keep social distancing with four students in the area we were using as a booth.  The sound was our biggest challenge. There were so many outdoor factors that came into play: airplanes flying over, sound from the traffic on I-95, masks and mic placement, sound signals cutting in and out for a variety of reasons. When I approached my principal, I said, “No problem, we can do it outside!” It took a knowledgeable tech director (Ben Potvin) to work through a lot of logistical challenges.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

How did you keep the students safe while practicing, creating set, and performing?

Everyone had to use hand sanitizer before entering the space and throughout rehearsal. Longer rehearsals everyone was reminded to take a moment to wash their hands. Masks were worn by all inside and out.To keep the actors safe during rehearsal we put tape marks on the floor indicating 6 feet distancing, no actors shared props–we did have one prop that needed to be brought on by one actor and then used by another–as a cast we figured out that he could wear rubber gloves to bring it on stage. The actors did not wear makeup, they executed their own hair design, put on their own microphones and did not have any costume changes. During tech calls, all tools were sanitized before and after each use. Techs wore masks when working inside and outside as well as maintaining social distancing.

 Photo by Freeport High School parent Ingrid van Duivenbode

Tell a bit about the support and from who to make it happen

Our principal, Jen Gulko, is incredibly supportive of our program. After explaining to her how we would adhere to all guidelines she approved our pursuit of producing a fall play. 

We have an amazing artistic team: Ben Potvin (Technical Director), Nate Menifield (Music Director) and Zoe Konstantio ( Choreographer) and myself as Director and Producer.  These positions were in place for the fall musical, however we quickly transitioned our roles to put on a play in 5 weeks.  It took each member of the team to make this happen! Nate focused on the text analysis and vocal performance, Zoe and I focused on staging and movement, and Ben focused on the tech. With each one of us able to focus on one area, the students were more focused and remained on task.

I hope that this blog post provides you with inspiration to figure out how you also can perform with your students. I’ve included the Press Release below so you can get the full impact and hopefully take away some ideas that you can adapt for your own work this year.

Antigone Now, FALL PLAY, PRESS RELEASE

A battle for honor takes place in Freeport High School’s upcoming production of Antigone Now, a modern adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone, written by Melissa Cooper.

Contact: Natalie Safley, 207-865-4706 ext. 801, safleyn@rsu5.org

October 12, 2019

Freeport, ME– “Theatre artists have been wearing masks since 400BC, so why can’t we?”  said Natalie Safley, Theatre Arts Director at Freeport High School, when discussing their upcoming fall play performance. When schools shut down last March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hundreds of theaters also went dark, cancelling shows across the country. Once Safley learned that RSU 5 was going to return to school this fall under a hybrid plan (where students attend in person part of the time), she immediately reached out to FHS Principal, Jen Gulko, to discuss doing a fall production.  Maine CDC guidelines prevent musical performances at this time, and currently limit outdoor gatherings to 100. Safley and Gulko determined that a small-cast fall play – produced outside and in accordance with all current safety guidelines – could take place. Safley rushed to choose a script, gather her artistic team, and conduct auditions.  Of the experience, she notes, “Putting together a show in 5 weeks instead of 10 is an unbelievable undertaking, but FHS accepted the challenge!”  

Playscripts, Inc. describes this adaptation as a “…contemporary response to the myth of Antigone…” Antigone (played by FHS junior, Ella Vertenten) strives to bury her brother, Polyneices, with honor, defying a decree from the king (who also happens to be her uncle) that, “No one may bury him, no one may touch him. It’s against the law.” Drama ensues as the characters fight to preserve the laws of the city while keeping the family intact.  

All performances will be held outdoors, Friday-Sunday, October 23-25, at 7PM, adjacent to the entrance to the Joan Benoit Samuelson Stadium (30 Holbrook St., Freeport, Maine). Tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold at the door. All patrons must wear a mask, practice social distancing, and should bring a blanket or chair to sit on. 

Purchase tickets to live performances here:http://bit.ly/FHSAntigone

Direction: Natalie Safley, Nate Menifield, Zoe Konstantino

Technical Direction: Ben Potvin

* Patrons must bring their own chair or blanket to sit on

*Masks and Social Distancing in place 

Contact Natalie Safley, safleyn@rsu5.org

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Dancing in Freeport

April 10, 2019

Learners at the center of their learning

During the 2018-19 two schools in two different districts were the recipients of the Dance Education grant awarded by the Maine Arts Commission (MAC). Freeport High School and Maranacook Middle School created amazing units that impacted hundreds of students in Grades K-12.

Collaborators – Teaching Artist Nancy Salmon and Freeport High School Theater teacher Natalie Safely

The Dance Education grant is the only MAC grant that is a grass-roots effort grant. Several dance studios and two high school dance programs have a fund raiser each November. The money raised is what funds the dance education grant at the Commission. Without the dedication and commitment of many educators, dancers, parents, and community members this grant would not be possible. Special thank you to Thornton Academy Dance Educator Emma Arenstam Campbell for her contributions to being instrumental in making the Dance Education grant possible.

This blog post describes the dance education program that took place in Freeport this year. It is truly amazing to see what occurred when a teaching artist and an arts educator collaborate!

Natalie Safley is the theater arts director at Freeport High School but I learned quickly that she is much more than that. Natalie is a connector, an integrative thinker, a big picture and detailed person AND most importantly she “gets education for high school students”! Nancy Salmon is a dance educator and teaching artist who has worked with students and teachers of all ages for many years. Natalie and Nancy put their heads together and created a dance education opportunity for Freeport High School students that would touch younger students in RSU5 and introduce them to possibilities in dance.

FOUNDATIONAL STEPS

Workshop with grade 2 students following performance

Ms. Safley reached out to all RSU 5 elementary teachers for suggestions on source material as a beginning step in this performance process. A kindergarten teacher suggested the books by Kobi Yamada. Once Safley read each of the books, she new that would be the perfect starting point. Each book has a central theme: What do you do with a problem? What do you do with an idea? What do you do chance?.  In small groups the high school students first read the books on their own and pulled out lines and visual images that they connected with in each of the stories.  Then they made physical representations of the lines they pulled out from the text.  It was important throughout the process to have the students connect the text with a physical action. From there students continued working with the texts as well as writing their own pieces related to each of the respective teams. Finally, the students individually created a slide show of images that represented one of the three themes. The images came together and students physicalized them in smaller groups. The final performance had parts from all of the activities. Since the final piece was derived from the students’ own work they were more invested and committed throughout.

CLASS WORK

  • The work took place in the Theatre I class. Days 1-3 took place earlier in the semester when Natalie focused on Movement and the Actor. Nancy provided her instruction on establishing a performance vocabulary. Natalie continued to emphasize this vocabulary throughout the semester. This allowed Nancy to come in during the final project and begin working on the final dance elements immediately; building off the foundational knowledge established early in the semester. The culmination was students conducting a hands-on workshop with the elementary students to teach them the steps needed to perform the dance movement that was performed within the context of the show. Working with the elementary students in this capacity illustrated the high school students’ proficiency with dance literacy disseminated throughout the project.
  • Dance was incorporated into the work in a variety of ways. The work began with an introduction to dance movement warm-up and the elements that are common to all dance and movement of any kind as developed and described by Rudolf Laban (Body, Energy, Space, Time or BEST). Students view a demonstration by KQED Art School on Youtube and talked about the Elements. KQED includes a 5th element – Action, which was discussed but did not include further in our work. Students and teachers discussed where dance movement could be included in the scripts or the production to best support or enhance the message. The opening entrance used strong, quick and direct movement introducing each student and getting everyone on stage. In contrast a small cadre of students were the “Chance Butterfly Brigade” in the 3rd section, using quick, light and indirect movement illustrating the notion fleeting chances that one needs to grab. Pathways were explored as well as the notion of repetitive movement in order to create a background of indecision, decision, action, disappointment, success. Viewing another video students learned a specific lift that required trust, timing, strength, and cooperation to make a person “fly”. Several students were particularly successful at embodying the intention of their character by understanding and using the dance elements.

Nancy working with students on movement

LEARNING/OUTCOMES

The students learned…

  • to work as an ensemble, yet individualize the subtext of their characters.
  • to apply and embody vocabulary for dance literacy and devised theatre.
  • a different approach to analyzing a text for performance.
  • about using their bodies to inform the text.
  • that dance is more than memorized steps.
  • to write a story for performance.
  • student voices – benefits, what are they gaining? How might they transfer their learning to real world situations?

QUOTES FROM STUDENT SURVEYS

  • Dance is more than just traditional dancing to movements. It can be more simple and unique.
  • I’m really proud that we accomplished the lift during the last section of the play because the 2nd graders said that they really enjoyed it and loved that section of the play.
  • I am most proud of accomplishing my different facial expressions. I feel that some of my lines in the play make me have to give a lot of emotion and doing that I need a lot of different facial expressions.
  • The synchronization between everyone in the class and how even when we might have made mistakes, we just rolled with it.

WHAT ADMINISTRATORS SAID

  • Thank you so much for sharing this with the second grade. We were very impressed with the way that your students interacted with the younger kids. It made my heart warm watching our students faces in awe of your kids!
  • Thank you SO much for bringing your incredible Kobe Yamada performance to Pownal! The younger kids were in awe by your moves (especially when you made each other fly!), and the older kids were so inspired by how well you depicted the three texts! At a discussion afterwards one of my students said “I want to do what they were doing one day.” Thank you for being such great role models to the kids! We hope you will reach out with any other opportunities for us to see your work again!

LINK TO ONE OF THE PERFORMANCE VIDEOS

LINK TO ONE OF THE WORKSHOPS

To learn more about the MAC Dance Education Grant program Please CLICK HERE

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Freeport High School

November 15, 2018

Big Fish The Musical

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Poetry Out Loud State Finals

March 7, 2016

March 15, 3:00 PM, Waterville Opera House

THE MAINE ARTS COMMISSION ANNOUNCES POETRY OUT LOUD STATE FINALS
Maine High School Students Compete in National Poetry Recitation Contest

Augusta, ME—The Maine Arts Commission is presenting the 2016 Maine State Finals for Poetry Out Loud, a National Poetry Recitation Contest, on March 15 at 3 p.m. at the Waterville Opera House. The competition, presented in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, is free and open to the public. Jennifer Rooks, MPBN’s Public Affairs Host, will be the emcee. Doors open to the public at 2:30 p.m. and no tickets are required.

Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Since Poetry Out Loud began, millions of students at more than 7,300 schools nationwide have been involved. This school year, almost 10,000 Maine students have participated in the program, providing them with an opportunity to master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

“Poetry Out Loud is one of many examples of high-quality, partnership-based programs that the NEA offers to schools and communities across the country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “By helping students foster creative thinking skills and inspire self-expression, we are laying a foundation for lifelong learning in the arts.”

Poetry Out Loud is organized by the NEA and the Poetry Foundation, and is administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. It began this year in Maine’s high schools where each school selected a champion to compete in a regional competition. From the two regional finals, 10 students were selected to compete in the State Finals. One student will move on from the State Finals to represent Maine at the National Finals in Washington D.C., where students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico will compete for a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends for the purchase of poetry books.

Congratulations to the following students who will participate in the Maine State Finals at the Waterville Opera House:
•  Lydia Caron, Bangor High School
•  Morgan Steward, Carrabec High School
•  Shiloh Munsen, Freeport High School
•  Charlotte Benoit, Greely High School
•  Danielle Barrett, Hampden Academy
•  Sylvia Holland, Maine Coast Waldorf School
•  Rose Horowitz, Mt. Ararat High School
•  Owen Sinclair, Rangeley Lakes Regional School
•  Anna Bucklin, Searsport District High School
•  Ben Millspaugh, Waynflete School

For more information, please visit http://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Education/POL-Home or contact Argy Nestor, Maine Arts Commission Director of Arts Education at argy.nestor@maine.gov or 207-287-2713.

The Maine Arts Commission shall encourage and stimulate public interest and participation in the cultural heritage and cultural programs of our state; shall expand the state’s cultural resources; and shall encourage and assist freedom of artistic expression for the well being of the arts, to meet the needs and aspirations of persons in all parts of the state.

Southern Region State Finalists left to right: Charlotte Benoit, Greely High School; Rose Horowitz, Mt. Ararat High School; Ben Millspaugh, Waynflete School; Sylvia Holland, Maine Coast Waldorf School; Shilo Munsen, Freeport High School

Southern Region State Finalists left to right: Charlotte Benoit, Greely High School; Rose Horowitz, Mt. Ararat High School; Ben Millspaugh, Waynflete School; Sylvia Holland, Maine Coast Waldorf School; Shilo Munsen, Freeport High School

Northern Region State Finalists left to right: Lydia Caron, Bangor High School; Morgan Steward, Carrabec High School; Danielle Barrett, Hampden Academy; Owen Sinclair, Rangeley Lakes Regional School; Anna Bucklin, Searsport District High School

Northern Region State Finalists left to right: Lydia Caron, Bangor High School; Morgan Steward, Carrabec High School; Danielle Barrett, Hampden Academy; Owen Sinclair, Rangeley Lakes Regional School; Anna Bucklin, Searsport District High School

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Freeport High School

November 11, 2015

SPAMalot

Freeport High’s
11 3/2th year Musical REVIVAL
of
Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail
is coming soon!
Don’t miss SPAMalot–the raucous, brilliantly British, often irreverent, Tony Award winning musical comedy**.

From coconuts and swallows to rabbits   and shrubberies, this show features many familiar iron-(or mud)-clad faces, and some new ones–like watery tarts and Finnish folk.

November 13 – 14 and 21 at 7pm and November 15 and 22 at 2pm, all in the Freeport Performing Arts Center at Freeport High School. Tickets will be $10 for adults, $5 for FHS teachers, students and seniors. E-mail  skolds@rsu5.org with any questions and bring your friends for a historically informative–yet still exciting–trip.

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Another Student’s Story: Charlie Lehmer

April 19, 2015

An interview with Charlie Lehmer

Periodically individuals are featured on the Maine Arts Education blog as part of a series called “Another Student’s Story”. Their “Arts” stories are shared with you, the Arts Education community. Please share with others. If you know of anyone who should be sharing their stories, please contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

charlie2Thanks to Ian Bannon from Figures of Speech Theatre for introducing me to Charlie Lehmer so he could tell his story. Charlie is presently a senior at Goucher College and will graduate this spring. His area of passion is film making.

In Charlie’s own words…

I graduated from Freeport High School in 2011. I mostly took music classes in high school. Unfortunately scheduling was so tight, essentially I had to choose either music or art classes. Outside of classes I participated in the student play every year as well as Figures of Speech’s program. In college I’ve taken a wide range of art classes, from drawing to visual design to photoshop to film. Currently I’m a Communications and Media Studies major, though I try to take art classes whenever my schedule allows it.

What do you value most from your arts education?

The hands off approach! It’s allowed me to follow. Because my school doesn’t really work directly with film, it’s allowed me to teach myself and really build up a passion that I think wouldn’t be so strong if it all seemed like homework. For me, learning about film never feels like work and that’s something incredible valuable, even if it was indirectly developed.

Name some skills, ideas, or life-long tools that you have learned in your visual and performing arts courses?

Keep your crew happy. In film, especially the early stages, your crew is generally doing you a favor, and a happy crew means a great film. If your crew doesn’t feel like they’re in a positive space and having a good time, the project generally tends to flop over.

Less is more. It’s easy with digital cameras to just shoot everything you see, but planning out a shot is where you really start to push your creativity and focus in on the finer details of a shoot. When you really take the time to stop and observe before filming, the shot will look great, or at least better than it would if you just click record.

I am a different person due to my involvement in the arts because…

At first it was my involvement with theatre in high school. Working with Figures of Speech Theatre helped me feel comfortable with who I was through improvisation. It allowed my creativity to form without any barriers, and that has infected the rest of my life. Every time I start a new project it’s such an extensive amount of work, that I end up learning a great deal about myself which continuously helps me to understand how I can improve not only my films but how I go about producing them.

If you could change any part of your arts education, what would it be?

charlieI’d definitely go to a film school. Since my school is not a film school, I’ve been forced to learn a great deal of my craft on my own. And although this is one of the greatest things about my education, at the same time it would’ve been far quicker to learn from a professional as opposed to the trial and error method I’ve used for the past few years.

What’s the most creatively inspiring experience you remember?

While I was studying abroad in New Zealand for a semester, I directed a short film with a small crew of 12 people. The pre-production process was unbelievable as we had so much input and creative ideas flying around from everyone on the crew. We had an art director coming up with concept art and a story board artist constantly pumping out scene set-ups. It really was an exciting process to be a part of. Seeing all those ideas come together into one cohesive story was a pretty awesome experience.

Why is making art or music and/or performing so important to you? Why can’t you live without it?

It doesn’t feel like work to me. I enjoy it more than anything else. The fact that I’ll get to do something I love for the rest of my life is truly mind blowing. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I had to do any other job.

 THANK YOU Charlie for telling your story!

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Maine Principals Association Conference

December 4, 2012

Leadership in the Arts

Kimberly and Tom presenting

Kimberly and Tom presenting

Recently I joined colleagues to present a session called Leadership in the Arts at the Maine Principals Association conference in Portland. I was happy to have the opportunity to present a session at the conference and honored to be presenting with outstanding and committed educators.

Kimberly Medsker and Tom Edwards shared information about their collaborative work at Freeport High School. Before joining the teaching staff at USM Tom was principal at Freeport where Kimberly is the art teacher. Evidence of high standards were clear in the student work that Kimberly shared. And Tom’s support for the arts was not only evident but clearly articulated. Each student has a webpage that is their electronic portfolio so progress can be tracked and the evidence is clear. Tom believes that the arts are essential for a dynamic, productive school.

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Erika

Erika Stump shared information on the report that she co-authored with David Silvernail More Efficient Public Schools: Learning Communities Building the Foundation of Intellectual Work. The report is part of the work at the Maine Education Policy Research Institute, University of Southern Maine. Erika shared some of the research finding. The schools that participated in the study included elementary, middle and high schools throughout Maine. These schools had a culture of pervasive learning, the learning was constant, and learning opportunities are continuous. For example, counting the steps while running up a hill is turned into a teachable moment. Erika said that the “arts are a good way to open the brain using creativity or an artistic approach to reach analytical thinking.”

catherineThe session continued with information and discussion on the role of arts educators as teacher leaders, specifically with the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). Leadership is a key component of the initiative and we have provided professional development in leadership at the summer institute along with assessment, technology, and creativity. Jeff Beaudry, USM professor, Catherine Ring, Executive Director of the New England Institute for Teacher Education, and both members of the MAAI leadership team joined me for this segment. We are continually amazed at the leadership role that the MAAI teacher leaders are committed to and the value that they offer to their schools and communities by taking on the responsibility.

I look forward to another opportunity in the future to connect with the Maine Principals Association.

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