If we’ve learned anything this school year, it’s that we truly are all in this together. With that in mind, Arts Department Director Paige Gagliano set out on a mission to celebrate the resiliency and spirit of community that in-person learning has required from students and teachers alike. What resulted was a Middle School play that provided hope, humor and joy in a way that only the arts can achieve.
Creating art of any kind this year has required determination and flexibility. However, the arts faculty have never wavered from their commitment to a meaningful student arts experience because of their belief that art has a significant role to play in helping people cope and connect. This year, students have continued making music together by practicing instruments outdoors and even hosting an outdoor band concert. In order to share the traditional “Jazz Nutcracker” dance performance with others in the Upper School community, the dancers were filmed, and the video shared during announcements. The Episcopal singers even found a way to continue the tradition of Lessons and Carols with a filmed rendition that was shared with family and friends.
When the time came to think about a Middle School theater production, that same determination held true. With “We’re All in this Together,” Gagliano and her students developed an offering that told the story of school life during these unique times. The story addresses distance learning, face coverings, the longing for regular school and the loss of loved ones. Ultimately, a sense of gratitude for what we have and all that has been accomplished prevailed, and students celebrated the sacrifices and commitment of everyone who has worked together to make sure learning continues.
Organizing the play was no easy feat. There were ongoing adjustments to the script, stage blocking and role assignment revisions and numerous starts and stops. “You know how it is doing a show about a pandemic during a pandemic…things happen,” says Gagliano. After the roller coaster planning process, the show made its debut. Students, families, faculty and staff truly appreciated the experience, with Middle School Division Head Mark Engstrom offering “appreciation of the Herculean efforts.”
As we celebrate the holiday season, we offer thanks for the spirit of a Knight that drives our community forward, whether it’s in the classroom, on the stage or on the field.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!