Fine Arts Department
Students’ aesthetic experiences in the Fine Arts help us educate the whole person. Through the Arts, students discover 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, they engage in collaborative and individual expression. Students also explore diverse cultural identities, heritages, and histories. Continuing in a long Benedictine tradition, the Arts are a pillar of student learning at St. Benedict’s Prep. In short, the Arts help form well-rounded “Benedict’s men and women.”
Instrumental & Vocal Music
The goal of the Music Department is to provide students the opportunity to express themselves and their identity within the larger context of community and culture through disciplined study and practice in either vocal or instrumental music. The program is available at all levels including the Elementary Division, Middle Division, Prep Division, and Girls Division. Participation in the musical life of St. Benedict's Prep takes many forms including traditional recitals and concerts as well as performances at daily Convocation, Monk Fest, religious Days of Reflection, sports games, and outreach or fund-raising events both at school and in the broader community. Students are able to relate their music experiences to all facets of the arts through proven interdisciplinary pedagogical strategies. While some students most value the exposure they are given to a broad array of musical opportunities, dedicated students are also able to receive the support and training they need to go on to study music at a college level.
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 explore art that ranges from personal expression of emotions or ideas, to art that embodies a range of 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. The focus of these projects range from Asia, the Harlem Renaissance, Climate Change, the History of St. Benedict’s Prep, and Voting Rights, to name a few we have done over the past 17 years. There are basic features that are present in all our Interdisciplinary Projects such as a culminating event to the studies that showcases student work to 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 teachers as learners. In alignment with Middle States goals, reading and writing play a vital 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.