This year, the students at South Mountain Elementary School in South Orange explored various cultures, art forms, and musical genres through the PTA-sponsored Cultural Arts program.
The program offered the 3rd annual school musical, artist-in-residence programs, and a music lunch program coined “Soul at South Mountain.”
The school musical, directed by music teacher Ebony Wiggins, was “Dear Edwina, Jr.” While the 5th grade cast members took lead singing and speaking roles, the 3rd and 4th grade participants joined in on whimsical and catchy tunes such as “Paw Paw Michigan,” “Put it in the Piggy,” “Frankenguest,” and “Fork, Knife, Spoon.” Past musicals were “School House Rock Live!” and “How to Eat Like a Child.”
The artist-in-residence programs aimed to expose each grade to a particular art form while tying into their current curriculum:
- The kindergartners energetically drummed various rhythms during their 2-day residency with Adam Issadore of Path to Rhythm.
- The 1st graders worked with local photographer Joy Yagid to capture images of nature then set to a poem of their own creation.
- The 3rd graders joyfully “danced through the Americas,” learning the dance forms and roots of Salsa, Samba, Merengue, Reggaeton, and Cumbia with Lidia Miller.
- The 4th graders were once again guided by Spiritree – this time to create murals for the school hallways that reflect the lessons learned in morning meeting books geared toward a kinder, gentler school.
- The 2nd graders practiced yoga with Betsy Stephens, as they captured the essence (heart messages) of the various animal stories read in class.
Meanwhile, various musical genres have filled the cafeteria during lunch. The idea for Soul at South Mountain began last spring, when Maplewood Community Music’s flute choir performed tunes from a variety of film soundtracks familiar to the students.
In December, former parent Tori O’Connell (of Tori Erstwhile and the Montys) and current parent Steve Campione teamed up to perform Marshmallow World, You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, Jingle Bells, and Winter Wonderland, among other holiday favorites. Student Spencer Campione joined in on guitar for a couple of lunch periods, while students also sang along.
In May, Spencer returned, this time with fellow 4th grader Robbie Goldman and Marshall School’s Mitchell Pressel. The young Mark Murphy band prompted loud cheers from the students with their impressive talent and stage presence. Maplewood Community Music also revisited in May with a woodwind and brass ensemble that included band teacher Jasmine Bloch. The volunteer musicians filled the cafeteria with marches, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and tunes from The Lion King. However, it was their rendition of YMCA that got students up from their seats and really moving before heading back to class.
Click on any image below to see a slideshow of photos from South Mountain School, including photos from the Dance Americas program and three new murals.