As part of the ICGL’s yearlong focus on Education, the 2021-2022 ICGL theme, Middle School students took an unorthodox approach to understanding the socio-emotional aspects of learning.
Middle School arts faculty, in collaboration with Director of STEAM and Design Dr. Kirsten Boehner, created a day in which students used various artistic mediums to respond to the challenges and stress of the past two years.
“Our primary goal was to create a space all around Joy given the weight of everything people had been working through the last couple of years,” Boehner said. “But we also wanted to break down some of the silo mentality that can creep into any academic endeavor — e.g. you do music in strings and chorus, you do visual art in art class, you build stuff in STEAM. We wanted to create a time where students could play across the arts to experience and express joy.”
In preparation for the event, visual and performing arts teachers Tara Harris, Katy Cowles, Anna Murphy and Donna Pottorff participated in a workshop with Urban Conga, a community play consultancy, and had students respond to a survey asking — What joy do you bring to Pace? What joy have you found at Pace? and What joy do you seek at Pace?
Boehner said many of the students’ answers revolved around other people — “I find joy in my friends” or “I find joy in my teachers” — or activity related, such as sports or extracurricular activities.
Then, students and faculty across arts classes spent a day using what they had learned to design and build sand pendulums, sound visualizers, amorphous Legos, a spray-painted mural of layered joy, wire sculptures and a giant collaborative piano.
“Overall, the day was a great opportunity to reflect on and share in the many experiences of joy at Pace,” Boehner said. “Students loved that the entire day was around creation — from wire sculpting their names to creating songs to building play structures, etc. Teachers also loved this aspect — the day was conceived of by the teachers on the arts track but the day was run by all the teachers at school and many shared that they loved creating and expressing themselves alongside the students.”