Calvert Elementary School

“Everyone Belongs:  Inclusion Through Theatre and Self-Portraiture”

Calvert Art Specialist:  Amy Allerheiligen
Artist Educators:  Christian Scott, Becky Boesen, Petra Wahlqvist

Calvert Elementary School explored their annual school theme of “Everyone Belongs” with a multi-faceted approach, exploring inclusion and self awareness first through theatre.  Later, third graders participated in an extended experience, learning to create thoughtful self portraits and writing artists statements.  Theatre was chosen as the initial teacher genre because of its powerful ability to create a safe and inclusive space for all.  Artist Educators explored the power of negative space and how we choose to fill it.  K - 5th graders created holistic story cycles based on their relationship with negative space, with the objective of inclusion with amazing results, giving students a sense of community and belonging.  This work was expanded upon with the portrait project, which allowed students access to different artistic techniques, but also, a process-driven opportunity to reflect on their own special fit at Calvert.  The 3rd grade students will enjoy an upcoming gallery event created for their display at Calvert.

During the story cycle workshop, there was a student facing some apparent obstacles when he arrived.  He exhibited some contrary behaviors, which often happens when a young person is struggling and needs a little control over their surroundings.  A hallmark of this program is to meet students where they are, as opposed to expecting each student to be in the same “place.”   This student was immediately tapped as a leader, and worked with the Artist Educators to help orchestrate the workshop.  By the end of the session, he was laughing, participating, and welcomed with open arms into a group of his peers.  Seeing his transformation also transformed the Artist Educators.

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