Spencer Loomis students take a ‘Journey Into the Arts’
Spencer Loomis third- through fifth-graders took a Journey into the Arts on Dec. 21 with hands-on cultural, culinary and visual arts activities. | Photos courtesy Lora Rampino
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:45PM
HAWTHORN WOODS — For the eighth year in a row, Spencer Loomis Elementary School students will journey into the arts before journeying back home for the winter holidays.
Journey Into the Arts is a beloved program and tradition at Spencer Loomis that former principal Grant Seaholm hoped the PTO would continue after his retirement last spring.
This December, about 250 of the school’s kindergarten, first and second grade classes will get hands-on experience with performance, cultural, culinary and visual arts Dec. 21 during the program, which the PTO has developed in partnership with Striding Lion performance group and Rivellino School of Art.
Spencer Loomis’ third, fourth and fifth graders participate in their own version of the biannual program in March.
The younger grades didn’t always get to participate as they do now. PTO Vice President Nina Handeland said that the program was only offered to third, fourth and fifth graders until four years ago, when she found a way to include the younger grades while keeping the organization’s budget low.
“I didn’t see why they shouldn’t be involved in it,” Handeland said.
Now, the school’s PTO develops the program twice each year to give students an opportunity to experience arts in areas they wouldn’t normally run into in elementary school. Students partake in sessions and workshops such as poetry, dance, drama, storytelling, music and cultural and culinary art.
While those seem like common areas most curriculums cover, the workshops are taught to help the students get a more in-depth look into each art form.
Last year, professional artist Len Upin of Buffalo Grove showed upper-classmen some of his work that in recent years focused on portraiture and self-imagery, due to a stroke he suffered more than eight years prior. Before his stroke, his work was tight, hatched marks and detail. Afterwards, it integrated looser, more big-styled marks that worked together to form intimate portraits of faces full of character.
Another workshop students attended last year was Rhythm Jam, a rhythm and hip hop class taught by Laura Merchut-Wesslund of the Metropolis School of the Performing Arts Outreach Program. During the class, students learned how to feel the beat of a song and put a beat to the syllables of their own names.
“What I love about Journey Into the Arts is watching the kids light up when they actually put together a dance or a song that they wrote themselves…seeing their faces when they create something,” Handeland said.
In 2010, students made vegetable kabobs and learned the line dances from the high school performance of “Grease.”
This year, Striding Lion performance group will be running the music, dance and theater workshops, and Rivellino School of Art will be in charge of the visual art workshops.