Monday, January 16, 2012

Giving Arts a Chance - Freshman year

In my last post I wrote a little about the arts offerings at my first high school, and I thought I would elaborate on the classes I mentioned, the plays my friends were in.

Being the only student from my elementary school to go to that high school, I didn't walk into school with friends.  The day that we had class retreats, one of the Freshman activities was to make friendship bracelets, and then give them to someone in the class.  I guess the teachers figured out that nobody knew me well enough to give me one, so Mrs. Wells (my Academic Advisor, who was there that day) made up a bracelet and when we did presentations, she gave it to me.

Intro to Arts was required for all the Freshmen.  The school operated on a quarter/semester system, so the class was divided into four groups, and each quarter we rotated to the next class.

When I was a Freshman, Mercy didn't have a dance program, so the first quarter was a sort of manners / etiquette class.  They added dance the next year, I remember an assembly where we all got to try it out.

Second quarter was Art.  We made soap sculptures, gridwork drawing, coil pottery, and calligraphy.

Third quarter was Drama.  We were supposed to keep a notebook with magazine clippings of things we liked, ideas for set design, costuming.  My family didn't have a lot of magazine subscriptions.  Mostly National Geographic, Scientific American, and eventually U.S. News & World Report.  I found it hard to find images that seemed appropriate to me.

One of our assignments was to pick a song to lip-sync in front of the class.  I chose "Dancing on the Berlin Wall," a single by a local Omaha band that was written after the wall fell in 1989.  I heard it on the radio not too long after, and then they were selling the singles at the BX.   It's a little repetitive, but I liked it. Unfortunately, I can't find it on Google now.  There was a bench behind me on the stage, I tried indicating it as a wall.  Mr. Rodasky asked me why I didn't actually dance on it.  I hadn't thought of that.

Then we got into groups of about three students each, and did something like 1-minute plays.  We were allowed to go anywhere in the school for that.  I think my group used the library.

Drama class was kind of fun, but we lived 30 minutes away, and I worried about making play practices.  I probably mis-wrote a few months ago.  The Fall musical my Freshman year was "A... My Name is Alice," I watched it with my mom.  The two skits I remember most were "At My Age" and "Friends."  I still have the playbill!  Oh wow.

It took me a little while to let my walls down and make friends, and at that first play I'm not sure I felt I was there yet.  Twenty years later, I'm not always sure I'm there yet.  I've found my classmates on Facebook, we interact some.  I had a fight with that good friend ten years ago.  We talked a little at the reunion, a few years later, but not much since.  We are Facebook Friends, but it's nothing like the old days.  No "Call me in the morning" yet.

In the spring, they did "Steel Magnolias."  I volunteered as an usher for that, I think that paid for my ticket.  Before the show, during intermission, and afterwards, they piped in "With a Little Help from My Friends."

That came up again at Purdue, I'll talk about it later.

Fourth quarter was when I finally got to the Music section of Intro to Arts.  A lot of it turned out to be more music theory.  We went over counting out rhythms, reading key signatures, and the major scales.

I mentioned last time, but I also started up clarinet lessons Freshman year, learning more about how to play, and building those chops back up.

Freshman Assembly was held late in the year, probably the third or fourth quarter.  We wrote our own scripts for that, a series of skits about our experiences.  I had a bit part in a "Pigs in Space" skit, something like "Pigov".  Each of the class assemblies ended with the class gathering at the front of the stage and singing a song together.  In the Sophomore year and later, that song is their Class Song.  But Freshman year, we could just pick one we liked.  So we sang "That's What Friends are For."

We managed all of this while also taking math, science, P.E., religion, that study skills / life skills course.  It was fun, and it built camaraderie.