All the School's a Stage

All the School's a Stage
All the School's a Stage
By Sacha Zimmerman

It was another spirited and inspiring year for the performing arts at Sidwell Friends. Brave, risk-taking, and joyous students from every division embraced their creative sides and discovered something new about themselves.

Students from every division have been turning in performances that celebrate their talents and ingenuity. The performing arts are of course an outlet for expression, but they are also a way for students to discover unique parts of themselves and to find their own voices.

“The power of sharing student learning in the music room—whether informally for classmates and families or in a more formal concert or performance—gives students the opportunity to showcase strengths and gifts that sometimes go unnoticed in the regular classroom,” says Matthew Stensrud, the Lower School music teacher. “Plus, the earlier we create comfort and ease in speaking, dancing, singing, and playing in front of others, the more likely that will translate to public speaking and presenting as adults.”

The power of sharing in the music room gives students the opportunity to showcase strengths and gifts that sometimes go unnoticed in the regular classroom.”

That idea of using the arts to bolster critical skills that will translate to the real world is something Middle School drama teacher Gary Tiller also cultivates. “Especially in our technology-driven world where more and more people are so connected to their devices, we currently see an alarming disconnect with human interaction,” Tiller says. “We need theater more than ever to provide us with opportunities for thought, reflection, and communication—with ourselves, each other, and our audience.”



 

 

We need theater more than ever to provide us with opportunities for thought, reflection, and communication—with ourselves, each other, and our audience.”

Sentell Harper, the Upper School theater arts teacher, echos that sentiment. “By engaging in these disciplines, students not only develop essential life skills but also cultivate a deep appreciation for the arts,” says Harper. “The transformative power of theater equips students with the tools they need to thrive on and off the stage.”

The performing arts at Sidwell Friends are grounded in the idea of community and teamwork.”

Connection and working together are vitally important. “The performing arts at Sidwell Friends are grounded in the idea of community and teamwork,” says Sarah Markovits, the Upper School choral director. “Ensembles in music and theater require deep concentration and active listening skills that are cultivated through individual and group practice.” That spirit of community can translate to innovation. “Students often write the dialogue, choreograph the dances, and explore and improvise their own instrumental parts,” says Stensrud.

At Sidwell, the performing arts program allows students to come as they are and be themselves.”

The arts also provide students with opportunities to feel safe enough to fail, test new techniques, and try again. “Watching our students in auditions, rehearsals, and performances, I am consistently struck by how willing they are to experiment and explore,” says Markovits. “That speaks to how supported the students feel in the performing arts spaces at Sidwell Friends.” Harper agrees: “At Sidwell, the performing arts program allows students to come as they are and be themselves. We create a space for students to take big risks on stage.”

“No matter a student’s own preference,” says Stensrud, “whether it be stage management, dancing, instruments, speaking, singing, visual art, or more, each student finds their own way to let their Light shine.”

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Sidwell Friends Alumni Magazine is published three times a year for the community. It features School news, stories, profiles, and alumni Class Notes.

Email magazine@sidwell.edu with story ideas or letters to the editor.