Fine Arts Department
Students’ aesthetic experiences in the Fine Arts help us educate the whole person. Through the Arts, students learn that problems have more than one solution, they experience the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds, they learn to say what cannot be said with words or numbers whether it be ideas or emotions, the expression of a group or of an individual. The Arts complement and enrich student learning in the other disciplines. In short, the Arts help form well-rounded “Benedict’s men.”
The goal of the Music Department is to provide students both the option and opportunity to discover their own creativity and self-expression within the larger context of community and culture through the study of and participation in all facets of the arts through proven interdisciplinary pedagogical strategies.
There are two categories of musical opportunity at SBP: service and celebrity.
Service takes place at Convocation, mass, soccer games, fund-raising events both in and outside of the school (Benedict’s Dinner, Wynona House, etc.) where students can represent the best of SBP tradition of service. These are events where students performing are not the stars but add to the show. Service music also includes compositions that express a common cultural identity and which students will be asked to play in their lives as musicians beyond SBP. Examples of this include the National Anthem, hymns from various traditions, etc.
Celebrity is embodied by student concerts and giving students a chance to shine. These are important for students who seek to build a personal identity as a musician within the community. The celebrity side of things fits into our Interdisciplinary projects where the music is outside the canon usually taught in high schools.
All instruction stems from the philosophy that Visual Arts is a language that uses “Form” and “Content “ as its building blocks. “Form” represents all those things that make the art look the way it does; “Content” is what the art means. Students are exposed to art that ranges from personal expression of emotionsor ideas,to art that embodies cultural, social, historical or religious beliefs and realities.
The underlying belief in Visual Arts is that all students have talent; it is the goal of the course to discover where that talent lies. One student may have facility in realistic drawing, another student may have an innate sense of design or an invigorating sense of color, while another student may have a natural “feel” for clay or 3-D design. This is why a variety of approaches, materials and content are offered. Students have a chance to shine, while also being challenged to build new strengths.
Visual Art is part of a bigger cultural picture – and we help students discover the commonalities between art and the other disciplines through our Interdisciplinary Projects which span several departments at SBP, including all the Arts. Whether the focus of these projects is on Asia or the Harlem Renaissance, some basic features are present in all of them, such as a culminating event to the studies that puts student work in front of a “real world” audience of school, family and community. Other features include multiple perspectives on one theme, partnering with outside institutions such as the Newark Museum or the American Orchestra, field trips, expert visitors and experiencing teachers as learners. In alignment with Middle States goals, reading and writing play a daily role in the Visual Arts courses as students read and write to learn.
The theatre program offers students an opportunity to discover and nurture their creativity, while developing their skills as theatre artists. As members of an ensemble, actors and technicians collaborate to give physical life to the play. Everyone is regarded as an artist. While long hours and demanding expectations characterize the work, the theatre also provides a refuge for those seeking a place to belong, as long as they are willing to give of themselves to the rehearsal process. Two major productions by the Drama Guild, as well as acting and technical theatre classes during First Term, and original, experimental work during Spring Phase, mean that it is possible for the dedicated student to participate in some aspect of theatrical production throughout the academic year. Plays produced range from Shakespeare to classics of the American stage, as well as contemporary pieces from around the world.