You could have called it the Throwback Theatre on Wednesday night during the "Time Warp" musical performance of students in kindergarten through grade 5. Each class sang and danced to popular tunes from one decade from the 1930s to the 1980s.
It was a timebending performance and exciting to see the hardwork of our students and Subject Expert Teachers Mr. Junsay and Ms. Michalak.
As the first day of our inaugural school year approaches, we're thrilled to unveil to you the team that will make up the founding faculty & staff of BASIS Independent McLean. We're pleased to introduce to you Amelia Nickles, Subject Expert Teacher: Performing Arts at BASIS Independent McLean.
Amelia Nickles earned her Masters of Fine Arts in Acting from the American Repertory Theatre at
Harvard University and a Bachelors in Performance from Fordham University, Lincoln Center. She also attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC as a high school student to pursue a career in professional ballet.
Given our program's reputation of academic excellence, it is all too easy for familes to think of us as "that school for kids who are good at math and science".
It couldn't be further from the truth. BASIS Independent students are artists, musicians, linguists, skateboarders, athletes, dancers and more. They all just happen to be part of a well-rounded, accelerated learning environment.
Not only do we value all disciplines equally, but as a program rooted in the liberal arts, we teach the full spectrum of liberal arts with the fervor and depth seen in an advanced math or science class.
Did you know that our students take performing arts beginning in PreK? As a mandatory part of our curriculum from PreK- grade 4, students are given the option to dive even deeper in to the performing arts with a daily elective option starting in 6th grade.
Take a look for yourself! Back in December, our sister school in Brooklyn published a spotlight on their flourishing performing arts program. They invited two of their performing arts teachers, Ms. Annie Crowley and Ms. Elizabeth Simmons to help bring to life their comprehensive performing arts program:
What is the purpose of the drama program at BASIS Independent?
Ms. Crowley (AC): Our drama program aims to foster artistic and emotional development in our students. Skills are honed in physical and verbal communication, creative interpretation, imaginative play, and abstract thought. For me, the most important aspect of what we do is in the cultivation of empathy and global curiosity by learning to see ourselves in the lives and experiences of others. Here at BASIS Independent, the drama program works in conjunction with the other fine arts disciplines as a creative and emotional outlet for students while also posing exciting academic challenges.
Ms. Simmons (ES): We build skills that are useful both on and off the stage! An experiential curriculum starts with the "Tools in the Actors Toolbox", the Voice, Body, Imagination, Concentration, Collaboration. Students build on these skills creating scenes, original plays, and one acts.
How is it different than at other schools?
(ES): Practically speaking, we both came to BASIS Independent with backgrounds in professional theatre (as actors, directors, and dramaturges) in addition to our work as arts educators, giving us both a wide range of resources and experiences from which to draw. We both have a background in Devising Theatre, which means that the stories and plays on stage incorporate students' own ideas and experiences. This helps create a richer experience where everyone is engaged!
(AC): The primary difference that I see in our drama program is our broad, multi-pronged scope. Beginning in Kindergarten all the way into the high school years, drama is a present and integral aspect of the curriculum. As we are able to extend over so many grade levels, we are really able to craft a rich and comprehensive program, exposing students to aspects of the field where we would most likely not have the chance with a leaner schedule. As a teacher, it feels wonderful to have such support and confidence from BASIS Independent in the purpose and value of our subject. I feel so lucky here!
It was a whirlwind week for our sister school, BASIS Independent Brooklyn, in preparation for their Winter Break. We want to share with you a recent post of theirs on their school blog about their celebration of the holiday season. We get many questions as a brand new school about what community is like at an accelerated, academically advanced program. As a second year school, BASIS Independent Brooklyn is a wonderful example of an emerging community coming together. As we head into the holiday season, we can't help but look forward with excitement as we think of what 2016 will bring for us here in McLean. We'll see you in January. Happy reading (and happy watching and listening!):
"What we saw this week at our school was such a strong coming-together of faculty, staff, students, and families to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of the year thus far...and to have some fun! It is safe to say that everyone - teachers, administrators, families, and students alike - was blown away by the displays of multi-faceted talent we saw from students at our Winter Arts Gala. From the beautiful self portraits in the upper school, to technically astounding a-Capella renditions of holiday classics (plus songs in Swahili, Hebrew, Mandarin, and German), to witnessing the progress of students who've never picked up an instrument before, everyone's hard work shined through. (and we have never seen more hard work than what we saw coming from our students in their attempt to beat our faulty in the faculty v. students basketball game!)
As we take a breather from school for a little while, we walk away with the deep sense of community realized. It is hard to believe that two holiday seasons ago BASIS Independent Brooklyn was an idea. We've come so far and are enjoying watching the character of our community fully form.
The pictures and videos from this week say it all: this is a vibrant, exciting place to come to everyday. Parents - we couldn't catch everything from the performances and showcases this week. If you have more pictures or videos you would like to share - send them our way.
Inspired by the blissful feeling of uncovering connections, our blog Eureka! McLean is about sharing moments that capture the essence of what it is to be a BASIS Independent student, teacher, administrator, or family.