Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Festival Wednesday in Full Swing!

"Music is the literature of the heart; it commences where speech ends." - Alphonse de Lamartine

Greetings, Wildcat families! We are so thrilled to have had two successful "Festival Wednesday" rehearsals over the last week. Over 320 students in two cohorts (we are calling them Blue and Gold because we have WILDCAT PRIDE!) from grades 5-8 were able to reunite with their friends and music teachers to rehearse in their band, chorus and orchestra ensembles. Even though that seems like a lot of students at once, we have been working within the guidelines from the CDC, the Onondaga County Department of Health, and the National Federation of High Schools to create an experience that is safe and valuable. 

With so much of our world still uncertain, one thing is for sure; we have an astounding team of professionals at West Genesee. The success of this effort is the result of the collective work of our music department staff, our transportation department, our nurses, and YOU! Thank you for your continued patience and support. 

Each day we are together is truly a blessing. Stay well, because we are so excited to be offering this experience to our students and community. 

We asked a few students about their experience today. You can find their responses below each picture. 

"Working together like this is more challenging, which is good because the more challenging something is the better we can become!" - Lexi, 5th grader 

"I felt so safe the entire time. Everyone wore masks." - Abbey, 6th grader 

"It just felt good to get out of the house and play." - Olivia, 6th grader 

"This is awesome! We are able to make deeper sounds and play all together." - Lucy, 5th Grader 

"We can get better when we listen to each other." - Shannon, 5th grader 

"We're with friends and it just sounds so good." - Hannah, 5th grader 

"It felt good to play around other people." - Cole, 5th grader 

"I really liked making music with other people." - Natalia, 6th grader 

Bill Davern 
Director of Fine Arts 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

A Fine Arts Update to the Start of Our 2020-2021 School Year

"Creativity takes courage." - Henri Matisse

At no time in history have these words rung more true. It has required a great deal of courage and collaboration across our district to develop a plan to offer fine arts instruction for the students of West Genesee. Every day, what once seemed like insurmountable challenges to overcome become more attainable. As we learn more information about the reopening of schools, we continue to work together to develop plans to offer robust music, art, and dance programming at West Genesee, being mindful of student and staff safety. We know how vital fine arts education are to the educational experiences of each student, and are happy to share some updates and specifics about our programming. 

Beginning with our littlest learners, every student in grades K-4 will have music and art special.  This will be different than your students may be used to; the special area teachers will push into the classrooms for special area time. This is to reduce traffic flow in the hallways and keep our students as safe as possible. All of our virtual elementary students will receive music instruction as well. We are very thankful to have been able to order art and music supplies for every child to have access to that will support their fine arts education, whether they are receiving instruction in school or remotely. In addition to enhancing the instruction students will be receiving, these art and music supplies have been ordered so there will be no sharing of equipment among students. These supplies should be available for every child by the beginning of October, and we will contact you once we know more about the delivery and hand-out of these supplies. 

Moving up to our 5-8 students! All 5th grade students will receive music and art special in the same push-in model as the elementary students to increase student safety. All art classes for 6th and 7th grade students, and students who participate in our band, chorus, or orchestra program will begin the year with virtual instruction. We know how important these programs are to our students for their academic, social, and emotional success and development, so we do have some updates to share with you about these programs: 

  • We will look to offer art for 6th grade students in-person beginning in the second semester. 
  • Studio in Art for 8th grade students will not be offered at this time. 
  • We are looking to offer in-person lessons for our band, chorus, and orchestra students. In the meantime, students will have access to quality music education from their teachers virtually. We must first navigate the start of the school year with its new requirements for staff, and will continuously evaluate for when it is safe and feasible to implement our lesson program in-person. 
We are excited to announce an opportunity for our students to engage in their band, chorus, and/or orchestra ensembles with their teachers and friends that we are calling "Festival Wednesday!" We aim to have this program up and running by the beginning of October, and will continue to monitor health and safety guidelines from our state and local health departments. In this "Festival Wednesday" model, students in grades 5-8 who participate in band, chorus, and/or orchestra will have the opportunity to rehearse with student musicians from their same alphabetical cohort as an added safety measure. In addition to not mixing alphabetical cohorts, we have worked with our custodial crews to measure the required amount of physical distancing in our rehearsal spaces to maximize student and staff safety. Because Wednesdays are a full virtual day, we will have access to school busses to provide transportation for your child to school, or you are welcome to transport them yourselves. Just like any other day of school, a temperature check and screening form will be required to enter the building. We do not have enough staffing to accommodate those without temperature clearance. All student musicians will be welcome to participate in this "Festival Wednesday" model, even if your child is learning remotely. Please look for a survey to come soon if your child would like to participate in this program. More details will become clear as we manage the first few days of school. 

Concluding with our high school Wildcats, all students will be scheduled into their music, art, and dance electives. We are able to offer most of our electives at this time. If you would like for your child to continue their fine arts journey throughout this school year, please check their schedule on SchoolTool once they are made available, and contact your child's guidance counselor with any requests or changes.

As we start the year, we promise to work together to evaluate safety and scheduling so that our students can have access to a quality fine arts education. As we learn more information, or when we are able to add opportunities to the schedule, we will keep you appraised. 

The West Genesee music, art, and dance staff are very excited to have the opportunity to create, perform/produce/present, respond, and connect to the fine arts with your children. We know the value of fine arts in building empathy and kind citizens. We know how integral arts education is to social and emotional learning. We know how important the physical, mental, and emotional health of our students are at this point in time in our world. We look forward to helping your children make sense of the world around them with the fine arts. We are, truly, STRONGER TOGETHER! 

Bill Davern 
Director of Fine Arts 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Fine Arts Update

To our Wildcat Fine Arts families, students, and community members:

Our resilience has been put to the test over the past few months. When reflecting upon the various challenges of 2020, it is important to remember the bright spots in our days. If it weren't for the beauty of the arts, I'm sure our days would seem much darker.

Reopening schools is an incredibly complex challenge. We believe that the health and safety of all members of our Wildcat community is of paramount importance; including the physical, mental, social, and emotional health and well-being of our students and staff. Fine arts education is a necessary component of building the climate and culture needed in our schools to re-engage students, support adults, build relationships, and a foundation for high levels of academic achievement.

Driven by the belief that continuous fine arts education sequenced K-12 are vital to each students' success, we wanted to share that West Genesee will be offering fine arts in the district as it reopens. Per the district reopening plan, students in grades K-6 will receive art and music, taught by a special area teacher that travels to classrooms to increase safety for students. The entire district administrative team and fine arts staff are working tirelessly to develop safe and equitable solutions in order for students to have access to the performing and visual arts. All fine arts experiences will follow the health and safety guidelines from the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), the New York State Art Teachers Association (NYSATA), the New York State Dance Education Association (NYSDEA), New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), and New York State Department of Education (NYSED). While our programs may not initially resemble the traditions we are accustomed to at West Genesee, we are confident that we will be able to phase in more opportunities as it becomes safe to do so.

We will continue to work in unison to make clearer the opportunities and parameters for fine arts. We thank you for your consistent dedication to our fine arts programs. We are truly #strongertogether!

William Davern
Director of Fine Arts

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Wrapping Things Up

Greetings, Wildcats! We hope this blog finds you and your families in good health and good spirits. 

We wanted to share a few important pieces of information to wrap up our school year. 
  • Our Fine Arts Awards video is live on the West Genesee Website. We will recognize our outstanding musicians, dancers, and artists. You can find a link here. Congratulations to all of our winners!!
  • Attention Hello, Dolly! members and families: We will be mailing the DVDs to you on Monday, June 22nd. We are sorry it has taken so long, but you'll have an awesome video to look forward to watching! 
  • To our Fine Arts Seniors: Congratulations on your graduation milestone! Best of luck as you continue your life's journey in whatever path you have created for your future. We hope that you will continue to use the arts as a way to make meaning in your life, no matter where that takes you. We will miss you and look forward to hearing about all of your adventures when we see you again!  
  • According to the Governor's order, we can NOT run our summer program. Because we are a school run program and not a day camp, we are unfortunately not able to function this year. We look forward to seeing you for our amazing summer music programs in 2021!
We would like to take this time to wish you a happy, healthy, and productive summer. On behalf of the Fine Arts Department, we sincerely look forward to seeing you next year! Keep creating, performing/producing/presenting, responding, and connecting to the arts! 

West Genesee Fine Arts 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Virtual Culture - Wildcat Style!

From makeshift studios to online tutorials, our Wildcats have turned to the arts to express themselves. Please enjoy this brief example of some of the incredible art, music, and dance created by our students. - Wildcat musicians playing for our local nursing homes. - An outstanding Flipgrid assignment featuring a 6th-grade band student. A 5th-grade violist shares what her superpowers would be and what her theme song would sound like. 

Maybe right now you have lots of time and engaging with your child in the arts is going really well. 

Maybe you're juggling your own job at home and all the school work to be managed and it's really hard. 

Maybe you're an essential worker isolating away from your children and you can't be there in person.

Maybe you're a teacher, doing your best to teach online, helping your students to continue to become the great artists you know they can be. 

Education looks really different right now and that is okay. 

Do what you can.

Be kind to yourself.

Encourage your child.

We are all cheering you on!

"And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in. That's what this storm's all about." - Haruki Murakami 

Your West Genesee Fine Arts Staff 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Music in Our Schools Month & Stonehedge STEAM Event

We are celebrating our 35th "Music in Our Schools Month," or MIOSM! The purpose of MIOSM is to raise awareness of the importance of music education for all children - and to remind citizens that school is where all children should have access to quality music education programs. Thank you to our dedicated team of music educators here at West Genesee for your outstanding service. Our student musicians have been very busy kicking off MIOSM!

Festival of Bands Concert

On Wednesday, March 4th and Thursday, March 5th, members of our high school band ensembles had the opportunity to work with Dr. Russ Mikkelson, who serves as the Director of Bands at The Ohio State University. These students collaboratively rehearsed and performed an outstanding concert that was enjoyed by all!

Congratulations to our wonderful West Genesee Middle School 6th Grade musicians on your outstanding concert on Tuesday, March 3rd! It was really enjoyable to hear how much you have all progressed since your December concert! 

Our three West Genesee Jazz Ensembles all traveled to the 33rd Annual Oneida Jazz Festival to compete on Friday, March 6th. All three groups received a Gold Award for their outstanding performance and musicianship. Congratulations! 

Are you looking to check out some other fabulous musical performances? Then you are in luck! We have many coming up for you to choose from: 
  • Monday, March 16th: Camillus Community Band at 7:30 pm 
  • Tuesday, March 17th: Camillus Middle School 7/8 Orchestra and Band at 7:00 pm, West Genesee High School Auditorium 
  • Wednesday, March 18th: West Genesee Middle School 7/8 Orchestra and Band at 7:00 pm, West Genesee High School Auditorium 
  • Thursday, March 19th: West Genesee High School Full Orchestra & Symphony at 7:30 pm, West Genesee High School Auditorium 
March hasn't just been about music in our schools! On Thursday, March 5th, Stonehedge Elementary School hosted its first-ever "I Wonder STEAM" event, which featured beautiful displays of science, technology, engineering, art, math, and live musical performances! The evening was student-driven and had a wonderful turn-out. Congratulations to all involved, the night was spectacular! 
5th Grader Mia L and her selection of paintings. She used various techniques to create diverse effects!

One of Mia's paintings, which was inspired by a lavender field. 
Artwork made from Pistachio shells. 

5th Grader Olivia B and her various Pour Paintings.

This one shows WILDCAT PRIDE! 

5th Graders Maddie M, Madison B, and Isabella L had a very interactive presentation all about wolves! Madison B drew the picture above their heads with a pencil. It was spectacular! 

Thank you for your support of Fine Arts in our community! 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Give Us Hope

The 7-12 Choral Festival and District Art Exhibit was a remarkable showcase of the many ways students can engage in creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication at West Genesee. Students in grades K-12 had a selection of diverse and eloquent art projects displayed, while our 7-12 choral musicians performed challenging music with expressive sensitivity. Particularly notable was the grand finale, which featured over 300 of our wildcat musicians uniting with one voice to share an important message about hope.
Baby Yoda/The Scream Parody Painting 

"We must never underestimate the power of giving hope to a child." - Give Us Hope, Jim Papoulis
4th Grade artist Max was one of our many featured artists. His Agamograph features a detailed Godzilla on one side. Can you tell what is on the other? 
Congratulations to the teachers and students on a truly spectacular concert and art exhibition!

Today, students from the West Genesee High School Dance Ensemble visited students at West Genesee Middle School in their physical education classes. Thank you to Steve Shoults, Janine Corning, and Caroline Brackett for facilitating this cross-district collaboration! 

We have many upcoming events if you'd like to support our Wildcat musicians and artists!
  • Tuesday, March 2nd-Friday, March 13th: West Genesee Middle School Art Exhibit at Maxwell Library 
  • Tuesday, March 3rd: West Genesee Middle School 6th Grade Concert at WGHS Auditorium, 7:00 pm. 
  • Thursday, March 5th: West Genesee High School Festival of Bands, featuring guest conductor Dr. Russ Mikelson from The Ohio State University. WGHS Auditorium at 7:30 pm. 
We hope to see you at an upcoming art or music event!