This is the first year that Gross Schechter Day School is offering an arts elective for middle school, and we are off to an amazing start!  For the first trimester, students had a choice between bucket drumming in music, 2D design in art and the production of To Kill A Mockingbird in drama.

Bucket drumming originated from African drum circles and became more popular in urban areas in the 1980s, leading to shows such as STOMP.  In many cases drum sets are not used but rather common household and street items (trash cans, brooms, buckets, pipes et cet.) are struck to create unique rhythms and melodies.  

During this class, students review rhythms and learn new notation specifically for parts of the bucket (drum).  The course begins with simple rhythmic patterns and progressed to more challenging ones. The objective is to enable students to play together as an ensemble, give them independence within the music to improvise and ultimate compose and notate their own music.  

As the October month of school continues, students show enthusiasm for bucket drumming.  It gives them the freedom that middle school students love and allows them to express their creativity.  

Students have been exploring 2-D media and focusing on the various elements of art, which are the building blocks of visual art. 5th and 6th graders began the trimester learning about scale. They found an animal image, created a grid, and enlarged it to scale using a viewfinder to simplify the lines and shapes.  The second part of this project was focused on pattern. Students reviewed and created various patterns called Zentangles, which are abstract, non-objective creations that grow organically with each deliberate stroke. They incorporated these patterns into their animal image and painted it with watercolors.

8th grade students focused on the element of line in their first project. They created micrography self portraits using positive adjectives about themselves. Students took a picture of themselves, printed it out and made a contour line drawing onto a piece of paper. The words formed the lines and shapes within their portraits. Micrography is a Jewish scribal art that forms the outline of images in tiny script.

Both projects have come out great so far!   

The idea of tackling a production of To Kill A Mockingbird with our 5th-8th graders was a very ambitious one, but we knew our students were up for the challenge. The story is told by Jean Louise “Scout” Finch as she narrates the details of a life-changing summer from her childhood. Scout grew up quickly that summer as she came face to face with racism, intolerance, poverty, brutality and injustice. Thankfully she had her brother Jem, her friend Dill, and her father Atticus to help her make sense of it all.  Our cast of 20 students have taken this process very seriously, and the very mature content and the subject of racism has become extremely important to them. We are so proud of these young actors, and we know that even in this early stage of the rehearsal process, this production has helped them become stronger advocates for justice.

Show date: Monday, November 19th at 6:30pm at Gross Schechter Day School in the Merkaz. Tickets are $5 each.  (This show is appropriate for 4th grade and up)  

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Ben Christ

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