Posts Tagged ‘MSAD#40’


Nature of the Arts

May 12, 2020

The show must go on

Imagine working for months and finally the day arrives. Students and teachers from 2 middle schools and 5 elementary schools converge on the district high school to set up and ready for the once every four years arts extravaganza. There are stacks of artwork, rolls of paper and masking tape, music stands and instruments to put in place. Older students and teachers set up all day long and just before the doors open to the public which traditionally has about 4,000 community members attend the pandemic prevents the celebration to proceed.

Maybe you and your school district have a similar story. If so, please share! Below is MSAD#40’s story which was shared by elementary art teacher, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader Anthony Lufkin and is found on the Nature of the Arts 2020 Virtual show website. 

We are very sorry that we couldn’t host everyone. There was a lot of work and effort that went into this show. The students worked hard on all of their art– drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, acting, and more– and we really wanted to showcase their hard work. The teachers also worked hard– teaching drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, acting, labeling the artwork, getting everything together and presented in the building– and we really wanted to showcase their efforts as well. We also wanted to welcome everyone to the Empty Bowl Supper, showcasing student-made bowls with proceeds going to local food pantries. (A very big thank you to everyone who donated food for the supper!)

We also know that this isn’t the ideal format for this virtual show, but we couldn’t foresee all of what was to come, and we did need to take the artwork down. Unfortunately, we do not have pictures of each individual piece of art. We also do not have recordings of all the music and drama we had planned to perform that evening. We do have a bit of the jazz band, who performed while high school students were viewing the show.

To view the artwork, see the different pages dedicated to the different areas of the show:


In 1984, arts educators in the RSU 40 district worked together to create a celebration of the arts that brought together all ages of students to display and recognize the developmental processes being taught through the arts and the amazing abilities of the students in our district. This comprehensive display of work has continued to happen every four years since then. Thirty-six years later, it is happening again. While there has been a slight hiatus since the last show in 2012, we are excited to bring it back to celebrate and recognize the amazing work our students continue to do. While it may have started relatively modest, now in its 9th year, it has grown and is an impressive body of work not to be missed. The RSU 40 arts teachers, students from all grade levels, and countless volunteers have been working hard to create this impressive exhibit.


This year the program is dedicated to long time RSU 40 Arts educators, Ken Martin and Sybil Wentworth. Both have been influential educators that have played important roles in the development and advocation of the RSU 40 arts that have helped lay the groundwork for the continuation and growth of these important developmental content areas. They not only influenced the RSU 40 arts curriculum, but have also inspired students and given them the tools to find or create their own success in art and in life.


For one night only, every student across the five elementary schools, middle school students, and students enrolled in high school art classes will have their work displayed at Medomak Valley High School. With representation from all 8 schools within our district, the display represents the vast array of mediums, skills, and techniques that students are developing progressively through the stages of our district’s art curriculum. In addition to this grand display of artwork, there will be performances by district music and drama students throughout the afternoon and evening. Ensembles will include K-1 and 2-3 classroom music students, elementary chorus, middle and high school chorus, elementary band, middle school band, high school band, as well as middle and high school drama performances.

This impressive display helps to highlight and represent the critical skills students are gaining through their participation in the arts. The processes that help develop innovative concepts and application, the metacognition of critique and visual thinking skills, and the development of abilities in a wide range of mediums are just part of what can be seen on display. This recognition of student work not only celebrates student achievements, but also highlights the intrinsic value of art.


RAMS Art Project

July 9, 2019

Great work Anthony Lufkin – 2018 Knox County Teacher of the Year

Art Educator and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader Anthony Lufkin teaches grades K-6 in MSAD #40 and with students at the Rivers Alternative Middle School. This spring the middle school students took on an amazing project. They focused on social and health issues that impact individuals and communities. Students quickly got into a deep level of learning and the connection with these topics and issues on the brain. The topics were challenging ones and each students selected a topic to research and create a response artistically. Two other teachers worked with the students along with the Farnsworth Art Museum. This is a great example of students engaged in and taking the lead in their learning. Take a look at this video and gain an understanding of an amazing project for middle schoolers.


Dance Grant Recipient: Prescott School

April 4, 2018

MAC Dance Education Grant – Chrissy Fowler

The Maine Arts Commission (MAC) established the Dance Education grant in 2015 to provide funding for schools to provide a learning opportunity for students in grades PK-12. Four schools, hundreds of learners, and four dance teaching artists from the MAC teaching artist roster have benefited from the funding. This funding is made possible through a dance performance sponsored by several community dance studios and school dance education programs in Maine.

Traditional social dance artist, Chrissy Fowler has been working in Prescott School, Washington this year providing instruction for the school’s K-6 students and staff. This dance residency is made possible from the Dance Education grant.

You can find Chrissy’s teaching artist profile on the Maine Arts Commission roster. The dance education grant is available right now for those interested in obtaining funds for the 2018-19 school year. For more information please go to the blog post called DANCE EDUCATION FUNDING. The deadline is Wednesday, May 2. 

Here’s the story from this year’s grant recipient… Thank you Chrissy for providing it.

Chrissy earned her M.Ed. in 1996 and started calling both community and contra dances in 1999. She has led school residencies for about a decade, and has been an educator for aeons. Leading contra dance residencies lets her combine PK-12 teaching and traditional New England social dance, the dance form which lets her identify as a “dancer” even though she doesn’t feel physically graceful. In this tradition, you work with a partner as well as everyone else in your set. Although there are sometimes roles which can be danced by anyone (e.g. “lady” or “gent”), there is no designated leader or follower. All dancers have equal agency in making the dance work—and we’re all in it together. Chrissy loves that! She’s also on the board of a local non-profit, Belfast Flying Shoes, which has a comprehensive outreach program including support for school dance residencies, such as the one at Prescott School.


All of my residencies have common goals: everyone participates in the dancing, exhibits pro-social behaviors, and makes connections across grade levels, and the residency culminates with a community dance for students, staff, and families.

At Prescott, we’re trying a few new things. First, my visits are structured in three mini-residencies, each comprised of four weekly visits and a culminating dance. Spreading it out over three seasons (fall, late winter, and late spring) has allowed me to integrate a bit more into the school community.

The residency also specifically connects to local history. Charlie Overlock, who fiddled and called for dances for 66 years, was born in Washington. He led dances all over his hometown and nearby. I’ve shared some of Charlie’s story with the students and I’ve taught dances I don’t usually use in schools – such as the foxtrot, which featured prominently in his program for the Washington High School Class of 1921’s graduation dance.

Finally, I was privileged to meet with the staff before the start of school, to find out what they wanted from the residency. Based on their input, I have made a special effort to articulate ways they can use the dances in their own classrooms (e.g. adapting them for movement breaks) and I’m putting together an annotated bibliography of children’s literature related to dance, especially various forms of traditional social dance. (When complete, the bibliography will be available to others via and


I lead dance residencies in many schools; some have me back every year. I think students, staff, and families value the chance to connect in a fun and active way… with eye contact, broad smiles, cooperation for all ages, and a lot of moving to music. And I think that’s the same at Prescott. We’ve witnessed a lot of joy and delight, and the best part is that contra dancing is something that they can do in their community for the rest of their lives. Maybe even with their own children.


Rather than any specific vocabulary words, I hope the learners take with them the kinesthetic language of moving their bodies through space in particular patterns. Contra dance figures such as “do-si-do” or “allemande left” are very positional, and there is also a tremendously strong left:right, clockwise:counter-clockwise dimension. We know that movement builds cognitive pathways, and contra dance can be a great way to learn, concretely, about equal and opposite forces, patterns, or directionality. The various figures also can support strong proprioceptive and vestibular systems, although that’s certainly not something I’d expect learners to articulate!

I also hope that they experience some social-emotional learning, such as the thrill of positively connecting with someone by dancing with them. Or doing the hard work of getting through a dance that’s challenging—either because the figures are complex or because you have to muster the inner strength to be kind and respectful to someone who’s not your favorite dance partner.


It would be a thrill if anyone remembered the ways that contra dance is part of their own local history in Washington. Beyond that, I hope they internalize that moving – together – to songs and fiddle tunes can be both social and fun for all ages… and at any level of gracefulness!


When students were asked for their response to the opportunity to learn with and from Chrissy, 6th graders said:

  • It is fun to learn to social dance.
  • It’s really different than I thought it would be.
  • I think it kind of feels like country but also feels a little like Scottish dancing.

Grade 6 teacher, Jim Freyenhagen:

I have been amazed at how quickly the students picked up the rhythm and the steps. The dancing makes them interact (in a positive way) with kids they don’t normally interact with.

Not only are they learning to dance but they are practicing their social skills with their peers and younger students.

Principal, Nancy Stover:

I think one of the highlights of this residency has been watching (through Chrissy’s magical techniques) how the students and staff have been able to abandon their inhibitions and try something out of their comfort zone. It has been amazing to observe students who struggle with peer relationships walk up to someone from another grade and ask if they could be their partner. It’s also heartwarming to see how well the older and younger students work together. They help each other learn the dance steps with patience and kindness, laughing and smiling all the way.

The community dance was a huge success! Parents and community members participated and those that initially observed from the audience, joined in and before the evening had ended, everyone was on the dance floor. The word spread throughout the community and we’ve had many people ask when the next community dance is scheduled. This residency has been one of the most rewarding I’ve experienced. It gives everyone a sense of belonging and inclusion while having fun! 


Charles E. Overlock was born in Washington in 1870.  His father Samuel played fiddle for kitchen dances. At the age of 6 or 7 Charles was sneaking his father’s fiddle and learning to play.  He played for his first kitchen dance at the age of 11 and continued playing for dances for 66 years. For the first years, most of the fiddle playing was for dances in homes in the neighborhood that could be  walked to. Later he would travel by horse and buggy, and in 1916 in his first automobile, to play at the many grange halls and dance halls in the area often traveling from 5 to 20 miles. Through the years the Overlock Orchestra included his wife Clara and daughter Josephine playing organ and piano and his son E. Burnell  on drums along with local cornet players. His orchestra usually consisted of 2 or 3 people but did grow to 4, 5 and once 6 members. He played for more than 300 dances at Light’s Pavillion located within sight of his home on Rt 220 between Washington village and So. Liberty.

Charles Overlock was a country fiddler that could not read music but kept people dancing for many, many years.

This information was taken from the book Sixty-Six Years A Country Fiddler, Charles E. Overlock  by E. Burnell Overlock, published 1984.

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