Fourth year of dance instruction in elementary and middle schools

Through the Orcas Arts Education Project, all public elementary and middle school students will have another year of high quality dance instruction in the classroom.

Spearheaded by Orcas Center in partnership with the public school district and the Orcas Island Education Foundation, the Orcas Arts Education Project has provided weekly dance and theatre instruction to students in grades K-8 for the past three years. Funding has been secured for fourth year dance instruction from the Washington State Arts Commission, the Education Foundation and individuals who raised their paddles at Orcas Center’s summer “Under the Orcas Sun” gala auction in July.

Susan Babcock and Jean Henigson will return as teaching artists for the dance lessons. Babcock will continue with students in grades four to six and the Montessori class, and Henigson will teach students in grades one to three. Middle school students will enjoy a two-week intensive dance session in November with a teacher to be announced shortly, and another two-week dance intensive will be offered in the spring.

“The dance program has been a wonderful addition to our curriculum, and students have benefited in numerous ways from this dynamic partnership,” said Kyle Freeman, principal of the elementary and middle schools.

Orcas Center is working with school district administration to secure funds to hire a theatre teaching artist for middle school students. Currently, they are in discussions with Everett-based Village Theatre to bring a highly experienced teacher from their KidStage program to Orcas one day per week, beginning in February.

The 2010-11 academic year marks the final year in the four-year project plan. Continuation of the program depends upon establishment of a sustained funding source, in addition to the annual grants from the state arts commission. One possible source is a permanent fund created through Orcas Center or the Orcas Island Education Foundation.