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Growing in the Arts at Heathwood: HHarts charts a new course, seeking to broaden students’ engagement with our local and national arts community

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Arts on Campus

You can see it all around campus—in the Wednesday afternoon open art studios, in the computer whiz who arrived early on campus to paint, the eagerness of the Kindergartener sharing her art on Habitat Day, or the Senior Exhibition presenters who find they are better prepared because of their drama training—the arts touch every student at our school, enriching their lives in both academics and life skills.

The arts don’t happen in a vacuum, however; it takes a committed faculty, administration, and volunteer corps to make any such program a success. In 2010, a group of dedicated volunteers formed HARTS, the Heathwood Hall Arts Guild.  Since that time, this all-volunteer organization has undertaken multiple initiatives—from raising funds for renovation of the auditorium, to funding dance instruction, to purchasing special classroom arts materials, and much more.  This commitment has borne fruit year after year, enhancing our students’ lives within and outside our community.

The impact of the arts is felt even beyond specific artistic endeavors, however; these experiences color the ways students express themselves, the ways they move, and the way they work with others.  Arts experiences have far-reaching effects on our students, not just as artists, but also as effective people of the world.  EG Engle, Middle and Upper School Drama teacher, puts it this way: “participating in the arts not only increases performance skills, but also builds confidence, teaches risk-taking in a safe environment, and builds relationships with peers.” 

To see this ethos in action, look no further than Emma Shealy, a Junior who participates annually in school plays and the girls’ a cappella group despite a very active role in Mock Trial competition.  She finds that involvement in one area helps in the others: “being part of a theater program is very helpful, because a key component to presenting a good argument is being able to speak eloquently and personify a witness.”

Arts in the World

After they leave campus, Heathwood students continue to experience the benefits of the arts wherever they go.  Our arts students have gone on to perform in productions such as High School Musical (Mo’Nique Coleman), The 100-Foot Journey (Manesh Dayal), and Law and Order (Harry Katzman). Passionate arts students have also used their skills in such diverse fields as medicine, the law, and even as a mayor.

This doesn’t surprise Upper School art teacher Scotty Peek, who sees the arts as essential to student success: “The recognition that ability is not predetermined, and that with effort and time you can improve at anything, carries over to all aspects of life.”

Arts for All

This year, with a new name and logo, HHarts is moving forward again.  HHarts’ redefined mission is summed up in the tagline Arts for All.  In step with the school’s greater focus on connection with our community, this new initiative seeks to enrich students’ lives even further through the Master Workshop series, set to begin in fall 2017.

The Master Workshops will bring artists from our local (and even national) community to campus to teach special classes in adjunct to our regular arts curriculum. In these workshops, students will have the opportunity to explore a particular area of the arts in more depth. The entire Heathwood community will also have the chance to experience the artist’s work, and HHarts members will have special opportunities to meet and talk with these exemplary artists.

You Make the Difference

Through joining the HHarts Friends of the Arts, all of us—faculty, parents, grandparents, alums and special friends—have the opportunity to directly affect our students’ arts experience and add richness to their school experience.  Often we don’t see the effect of the arts on students until after they take a leap into trying something new; HHarts is committed to providing that extra layer of experience through frequent opportunities for students to explore the arts, increase their skills, and find ways to express their unique vision.

Whether they go on to excel artistically or in other fields, the arts have an impact on every student at Heathwood. With your support, we will continue this rich tradition of Arts for All.