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The Student News Site of Jewish Leadership Academy

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JLA Needs an Art Center

JLA+Needs+an+Art+Center
Chelsea Werde

Math, Science, English, History, Physical Conditioning: these are all school subjects are equally important to the formation of a well-rounded human being. It is the job of a school to mold a student into the most balanced person they can possibly be. It goes without saying that JLA, an extremely prestigious school, has done impressively well in this respect thus far as our schedules include physical conditioning every day and anyone can choose to take an art or music class as their elective or as an Option 9.

 

Equally impressive is how a campus that directly contradicts the well-known phrase ‘the Roman Empire wasn’t built in a day’ manages to set aside enough room for pretty much everything it needs. The only issue there seems to be at the moment is we don’t really have a dedicated space for the arts. 

 

Dance class takes place in “a classroom that’s being shifted into a dance studio” according to the dance teacher, Ms. Perez. At the moment, there aren’t plans to move the class to anywhere else because it is being taken care of. Mirrors have been brought in and moveable tiles will be put down over the current flooring. The new tiles are called “Marley,” a material made of vinyl that most yoga mats are made of. This flooring will serve well for a multipurpose dancing class but “ballet and pointe would require a surface or texture.”

 

Ms. Alexander, who is not only the chair of the Humanities department at JLA but also a former dancer, was delighted to see that when JLA was taking applications last year “many of the girls expressed an interest in dance.” She went on to say, “we were already planning on offering it, but I knew then that we had to find a passionate teacher who is eager to build a program, and I believe Ms. Perez is just the right person. Ms. Perez is doing a great job teaching in the double classroom in the Upper School, but I would love to get a proper dance studio for her with the right floors and mirrors.” She is also “delighted to see the enormous interest for the performing arts amongst our students.” 

 

Another facet of the arts that JLA does not yet provide as an option to its students is theater, something that I am personally interested in. Although the cafeteria and Beit Midrash have been equipped to transfigure into a stage with an audience the stage isn’t quite big enough to be suitable for theatrical productions. Ms. Alexander says: “At the Open House last year and continuing into this year, a growing number of students have told me they would be interested in theater. I would love to build a theater program at JLA. At the moment, it’s a little tough to find the time, but we also don’t have the ideal space.” Hopefully, some time in the future a lot adjacent to JLA will become available and we’ll be able to build an arts center but until then a theater program seems to be little more than wishful thinking.

 

The visual arts are also a consideration. Ms. Hildebidle the art teacher believes that “students place value on programs and spaces that are emphasized by the school. Learning outcomes in the arts improve in a dedicated facility and, as studies show, learning across the curriculum is dramatically improved with a quality arts education.” So, not only will a center for the arts make performance and interest in the arts better, but will also make the performance of students improve all around. As a member of Ms. Hildebidle’s Artists’ Studio elective class I have noticed that our classroom is pretty much built on disputed ground between the art and engineering classes. It also seems to be the case that whenever other teachers need supplies they just take something from the art classroom and we just won’t have markers for about a week.

 

On top of testimonies from teachers, I spoke to Rabbi Perl for another article about the architecture of JLA’s campus and he expressed that his biggest grievance with the current campus is that “we don’t have a performing arts space, we don’t have a dance studio or theater production space […] Maybe one day when there’s more land available around the campus it’ll happen […] This type of thing requires a place to build it and funding to build it but as soon as we can it is something that we would like to have.”

 

In summary, an arts center would improve the experience of those enrolled in art classes as well as their performance in that class. Further, other classes will be affected, resulting in a more well-rounded student and thus achieving this school’s mission to cultivate the brightest Jewish minds of our generation more efficiently.

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About the Contributor
Jake Kravetz, Editor, 10th Grade
Jake a. Kravetz, 10th grade, is a founding member of The Inkwell. He enjoys writing about pretty much anything under the sun as well as producing comics for the paper.

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