LIP SYNC BATTLE TO BOOST NONPROFIT
Arts Education Initiative To Host Three-Day Contest At Court Square Theater
Posted: October 15, 2015
By NOAH CLARK
At the Lip Sync Battle in The ‘Burg, the singing might be fake, but the chance to help children gain access to the arts is real. Any Given Child Harrisonburg is hosting the three-day contest at Court Square Theater on Oct. 21, Nov. 4, and Dec. 2.
Any Given Child Harrisonburg is a partnership between Harrisonburg City Public Schools and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It focuses on access and equity in arts education for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, J.R. Snow, director of Any Given Child Harrisonburg, said. “Ultimately, our goal is for 3,500 plus kids to engage in experiences that the normal budget might not offer,” he said. “We also want to provide teachers with training in arts integration.”
Ten contestants, five on each night, will compete for the audience’s approval during the first two performances on Oct. 21 and Nov. 4. Then the top three performers from each night will advance to the final round held on Dec. 2. Contestants are volunteers from the community, Snow said.
The first night will feature Kristin Gibson, assistant director of marketing and technology at James Madison University; Andy Perrine, associate vice president for communications and marketing at JMU; Harrisonburg City Councilman Abe Shearer; Eric Miller, vice principal at Harrisonburg High School; and actress Dawn Womack.
The second night, Nov. 4, features Cannie Campbell, director of corporate and foundation giving at JMU; Golden Pony owner Paul Somers; Q101 radio show host Brandy Lindsey; Paula Polglase, assistant director of alumni relations, communications and marketing at JMU; and Todd Gardner, president of Glass and Metals auto glass shop. Each night will feature two rounds, separated by a presentation about Any Given Child Harrisonburg and an intermission.
While the songs themselves are under wraps until the event, there will be a variety of genres
on display, Snow said. “It’s all about what makes the contestant comfortable,” he said. “So far it seems like a lot of comedy and engaging the audience. They are going to go all out and have fun with the
opportunity.” Judges will be on hand, but the decision as to which contestants advance will be in the
hands of the audience. “We are going to have a smartphone app that everybody can download, so you can vote for your favorite person,” he said.
The event offers the community something different that hasn’t been done before, Miller said. “The ‘Lip Sync Battle’ TV show on Spike is a big hit, and Jimmy Fallon does his thing on the ‘Tonight Show,’ which is a hit,” he said. “It’s a popular thing right now, which will help draw people to the event.”
While entertaining the crowd is an integral aspect of the show, contestants understand the importance of having the arts in schools. Gibson said art was always one of her favorite classes when she was in school, and she’s glad to have an opportunity to help students gain access to the arts.
The arts serve as an essential part of any student’s education, Snow said. “Every person is organically creative in some way,” he said. “Through education, we have a responsibility to ensure that we reach that child in that space, so they can continue to build themselves as a creative body and learner.” Entrepreneurs and other professionals have to be creative to solve problems that come up in their work, Snow said, adding that people may look at the arts as just an orchestra or a museum, but the arts are everywhere. “Harrisonburg does a wonderful job of showcasing that with these First Friday art displays and live music in different genres,” he said. “Imagine the beer festival without music. Imagine
Clementine without the art on the wall. There are so many different ways art is being showcased. We wanted to create a fun, affordable way that the community can come out. We can laugh and learn about what is going on.”
Snow, who has worked with the school division for 10 years — first as a band director at Harrisonburg High School and now as the fine arts coordinator — said during his tenure, he has seen the community expand its emphasis on the arts. The next step is to educate students who will be a more active part of the community in the coming years. “We believe every child is one more piece of the puzzle in a great artistic community,” he said.
The organization has a goal of raising $150,000 by the end of the school year. There is no paid staff, so all of the money raised by the organization goes toward training teachers and providing students experiences in the arts, Snow said. However the organization has partners throughout the community, including James Madison University’s Forbes Center, Snow said. The partnerships help drive costs down. For example, a trip to a performance at the Forbes Center only costs the group what it takes to transport the students, he added.
Tickets for each show are $20 in advance or at the door. They can be purchased at Court Square Theater’s website www.valleyarts.org. At each performance, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the shows start at 7 p.m.
Splash Of Color At Stone Spring
Author(s): AMELIA BRUST
Date: September 3, 2015
Section: News (Local)
HARRISONBURG - Students are bringing a sculpture to life at Stone Spring Elementary School this week, thanks to artist-in-residence Kevin Reese. As part of Harrisonburg City Public Schools' Any Given Child fine arts partnership with the Kennedy Center, Reese is leading the creation of mobiles for the school's cafeteria.Mobiles are hanging sculptures with objects attached to rods that balance. A common example is the type of toy that hangs above a baby's crib with objects that spin.
Work at Stone Spring started on Monday, when Reese asked third- and fourth-graders to select shapes from flags hanging around the cafeteria ceiling. Children cut shapes out of foam, which were glued to copper and steel wires.
On Wednesday, Beth Cruse's fourth-grade class painted shapes different colors, including green rhombuses and purple hearts. After the class put away their painting gear, Reese walked them through a lesson in mobile construction. This is his second project with city schools. Last year, he made a sculpture with students at Harrisonburg High School, which stands outside the building's north entrance.
"All the work I do is kinetic in some way, shape or form," he said. Inspired by the mobile's originator, Alexander Calder, Reese wants his work to move in the wind. He has created over 150 school sculptures in the last 14 years. No matter the piece, he said, the most important thing is making sure students "get an extraordinary experience."
Venwar Fateh, 9, said he tried to make his own sculptures at home - out of ice - but the mobile at school should last a little longer. "It's pretty cool helping and making stuff. It's not just for you," he said while painting a pair of different shapes, connected by a wire balanced on his finger. Venwar predicted that future Stone Spring pupils will see his work on the cafeteria ceiling and say, "I want to do that."
Close to 110 students had a hand in creating the mobiles, said Kathleen Taylor, the school's assistant principal. When work is finished, Reese will have about 15 mobiles, each between 5 and 6 feet wide, to hang around the room on Friday.
Reese, a Washington, D.C.-based artist whose mobile residency project School Sculptures works nationwide, did more than design the sculpture. He showed the children how to assemble the pieces "from the bottom up" and will perform a one-man play for the school on Friday.
Contact Amelia Brust at 574-6293 or email@example.com
Support HEF Campaign
Author(s): Emily Wells Gianfortoni
Date: January 3, 2015
Section: Opinion (Open Forum)
To all graduating classes of Harrisonburg High School: Let's fund the Harrisonburg Education Foundation to show our appreciation to all Harrisonburg teachers, past and present. The Harrisonburg High School Class of 1964 has established a campaign to raise $64,000 by our 55th reunion in 2019. The inspiration came from the success of our very first fund raising effort during our five-year class reunion in 1969.
Class members contributed $1,000 to be awarded as a scholarship to an African-American student in the graduating class of 1969. The Class of 1964 was the last segregated class to graduate from HHS. To show the support for the long-awaited integration of Harrisonburg City Schools, class leaders decided to award the scholarship to a worthy African-American student recommended by the guidance department. Thus, Mary Ann Smith Tucker was chosen. The scholarship helped her attend Virginia State University and graduate with a degree in elementary education.
Those of us who received our education in the Harrisonburg City Schools can claim the benefits of our public school education in our subsequent careers. I have fond memories of excellent teachers such as Ms. Watkins, Mrs. Meeks, Mr. Logan, Miss Seig, Mr.Saum, and many more.
Thanks to the strong foundation I received during my years in the Harrisonburg school system, I was able to complete my education at top national universities. The education I received in Harrisonburg prepared me well for my future academic endeavors. Judging from the career paths and educational trajectories of fellow classmates, I know that my experience was not unique.
At our 50th-class reunion last August in Harrisonburg, the story of Mary Ann Smith Tucker inspired a group of class members to explore how to continue contributing to Harrisonburg schools. Fourteen members of the class formed a study committee to shape our vision and to set concrete goals and strategies. We decided to give back to Harrisonburg schools through the Harrisonburg Education Foundation. Over the course of several months the committee hammered out a mission statement which included support for the mission of HEF and a goal of raising at least $64,000 "to create an endowed fund for teachers to create educational opportunities that would otherwise not be available."
Even more important than raising the $64,000 is the goal of having 100 percent participation of all class members. One of the members of the committee has contributed $100 for each of our deceased class members to help reach 100 percent participation.
The committee sent out a letter to class members in late November requesting contributions to the HEF over the next five years. Already more than $20,000 has been pledged and over $8,000 in donations has been received.
The study committee decided to make an initial contribution of $5,000 to HEF to support the Any Given Child Program, sponsored by the Kennedy Center. The program aims to expand access to and enhance arts education (including music) in grades K-8. This was a competitive program, and Harrisonburg was one of only 15 public school systems nationwide selected to participate.
Because the program was designed to be a partnership, the Harrisonburg community is required to show its support by contributing $25,000 to Any Given Child. Thus, designating our initial $5,000 contribution to HEF for community support for the Kennedy Center program was an easy choice. We hope other graduates will join us in this effort.
The study committee voted to use the remainder of the funds generated to award annual education grants to Harrisonburg teachers. They will be able to submit applications to HEF in order to receive grants that enhance instruction and education experiences for students still attending Harrisonburg public schools.
Members of HHS Class of 1964 hope that our fundraising campaign will be successful not only in raising $64,000, but will also inspire other classes to support HEF. If the more than 7,500 graduates of HHS would each contribute to the Harrisonburg Education Foundation, imagine the programs and grants HEF would be able to fund!
Emily Wells Gianfortoni, who now resides in Richmond, is a member of the Harrisonburg High School Class of 1964 committee spearheading a campaign to increase support for the Harrisonburg Education Foundation.
City, Schools Partnering With Kennedy Center
Author(s): KASSONDRA CLOOS
Date: August 13, 2014
Section: News (Local)
HARRISONBURG - Harrisonburg's focus on the arts in and outside of the classroom will continue to strengthen during the next several months, as it's been chosen as the most recent of just a handful of cities to partner with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Kennedy Center, based in Washington, D.C., announced Harrisonburg's induction into the Any Given Child program on Tuesday morning during a press conference at Clementine Cafe. It's the 15th city to become part of the program, which connects resources at the Kennedy Center with school divisions around the country to make arts education opportunities available for children across the board.
Often, the educational process focuses more on the analytic side of learning than the creative side, said J.R. Snow, arts coordinator for Harrisonburg City Public Schools. But emphasizing the need for schools to offer artistic opportunities for all students - not just those who are wealthy or particularly gifted - is vital to teaching students how to innovate later in life, he said.
"For me, it's about creativity," Snow said. "The performance element, the creation of art, that all comes out of creativity. So those things are great, and I want them, but I also want to make sure the child's mind is being opened up to be creative."
Any Given Child will work with existing resources and programs at HCPS, James Madison University and other arts organizations in the Valley to bring more comprehensive arts education to Harrisonburg students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
HCPS already has shown a commitment to increasing the availability of arts programs to its students: Harrisonburg High School is now in the second year of its fine arts academy, and Stone Spring Elementary School will start a new arts immersion program this fall.
The community must raise $25,000 to participate in the program for the first four years, which will be matched by $125,000 from the Kennedy Center. Representatives from the Kennedy Center will visit Harrisonburg at least eight times during the next nine months, when they will draft plans with the city and school division and provide training for existing staff members.
Darrell Ayers, vice president of education at the Kennedy Center, said the organization is excited to expand the program to its own "backyard."
Baltimore and Harrisonburg are the only participating cities within relative commutable distance to the Kennedy Center. The other 13 cities are scattered across the country and mostly in the Southwest and along the West Coast.
Ayers said the Kennedy Center will merely guide Harrisonburg into building the arts programs it wants. It's not a cookie-cutter program that already has set resources and goals.
Instead, Any Given Child works with all of a community's resources to engage school divisions with the arts communities surrounding them.
Harrisonburg Mayor Ted Byrd had to sign off on the school division's application and provide a letter of recommendation. At Tuesday's press conference, Byrd said he was excited for what the program would have to offer to his city's children.
"When a child wakes up in the morning, they should come to school thinking it's going to be the most exciting, interesting and, honestly, fun, place to be," said HCPS Superintendent Scott Kizner. "And I hope there's a day, and I think in Harrisonburg the day has really come, where we talk about the arts as much as we talk about the SOL standards [standardized testing], that having paint brushes and drumsticks is as important as mastering the tools in math and science and social studies."
City Schools Partner With Kennedy Center
Author(s): Daily News-Record Date: August 12, 2014
Section: News (Updates/Breaking News)
HARRISONBURG - Harrisonburg is the 15th city to partner with the Kennedy Center for its "Any Given Child" program, the organization's vice president for education announced on Tuesday. The program connects resources at the cultural arts center in Washington, D.C., with school divisions around the country to make arts education opportunities available for children. Harrisonburg needs to raise $25,000 to participate in the program, which will be matched by $125,000 from the Kennedy Center.
The announcement was made at a press conference Tuesday morning at Clementine Cafe in downtown Harrisonburg. Darrell Ayers, vice president of education at the Kennedy Center, said the organization is excited to expand the program to its own backyard.
Mayor Ted Byrd, Harrisonburg City Public Schools Superintendent Scott Kizner and J.R. Snow, arts coordinator for HCPS, also spoke at the press conference.
HCPS will soon start a nine-month planning process with the Kennedy Center, which will include eight meetings and staff training.