Elk Meadows students’ talents shine at school arts festival
Sixth-grader Rebecca Rios, dressed as Dorothy, set the mood for Elk Meadows’ Festival of the Arts program with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” (Julie Slama/City Journals)
Elk Meadows first-grader Eden Larson was excited for her school’s Festival of the Arts. Not only did she have her class work on display, but she also was performing her jazz dance routine in the library.
“It’s fun because I can show everyone my dance routine,” she said, adding that she also does ballet and hip-hop. “I like the jazz routine best because I have an aerial in it.”
Eden was one of several students who signed up to showcase her talent at the Festival. Students played piano, cello, violin, clarinet and ukulele, and sang, performed gymnastics and dance, demonstrated martial arts, soccer and hula hoops. Others showcased their abilities with a Rubik’s cube, pogo stick and hoverboard.
“This is the third year we’ve introduced the individual talent, and every year, it gets bigger and bigger,” said resource teacher Julie Russell, who helped organize the event. “We had about 65 kids perform individual talent. They’re excited because we welcome students of any ability level as long as it’s an arts-related talent that they’re willing to perform in front of peers. This is a great way of letting students know that the arts are significant and a priority at our school as well.”
Russell said that students in every class had their artwork displayed, showcasing pieces from throughout the year. There were class projects, such as a paper quilt, and a school sculpture that had contributions from all students.
Fourth-grader Leah Hall was at the Festival to show her parents a self-portrait of herself looking at the camera lens.
“It was a fun creating this at a different angle,” she said, adding that she likes to paint in her free time.
Fourth-grade teacher Rachel Van Orden said that the Festival began four years ago and she and other teachers attended the BYU Arts Academy, which is connected to the Beverly Taylor Sorensen arts program where teachers learn how to integrate the arts into a core subject area.
“I just love seeing all the kids so excited to perform either in choir, the orchestra, or the individual performances,” she said. “Several of them walk the halls, eager to show their parents their artwork. It is a fun experience.”
In addition to Elk Meadows’ orchestra, about 100 second- through sixth-grade students auditioned to be in a school choir program that met before school twice per week beginning in February.
The program was written by second-grade teacher Liz Taylor, who decided last October that she would write a script. It was the first script Taylor has written.
“I had a theme I wanted to share with the students, and that is only you can make yourself happy,” she said. “I wrote which songs I wanted to use and then conveyed messages to love learning, have the courage to overcome hard things and love yourself and other people.”
Taylor designed her script around Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion characters in the “Wizard of Oz,” who showed they needed a brain, a heart and courage, respectively.
With the help of other teachers and volunteers, they taught students music and dance choreography, while costuming them with sounds and lights and a 400-picture presentation.
“The kids talk about how fun it is to be involved in something this great and write about it in their classrooms,” Taylor said.
Fifty-nine students had solos or speaking parts, and the rest held props during the choir program. Sixth-grader Rebecca Rios, dressed as Dorothy, set the mood with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Students Madison Loveridge, Ammon Bytheway and Emma Williams were Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, respectively.
Other featured singers include students Johnny Harwood, who sang, “I Believe I Can Fly” and Broox Bate, sang “Lemonade.” Third-grade teacher Whitt Lovell sang, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical, “Oklahoma.”
“It was an amazing evening showcasing so much talent,” Russell said. “This let their talent shine and showed our investment in our students.”