Sunday, October 18, 2015

"Making the Impossible Possible"

This summer I took time to read a book that came highly recommended. The book "Make the Impossible Possible: One Man's Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary" by Bill Strickland is the journey of Bill working through the past 30 years transforming the lives of thousands of people through Manchester Bidwell. This book shows how all of us can build on our passions and strengths, dream bigger and set the bar higher, achieve meaningful success, and inspire the lives of others.

As Bill notes on page 6 in his book, "I was just another aimless kid, coasting through school, bored and disengaged, with no sense of what I'd do with my life after graduation, when Grank Ross invited me into his classroom and let me sit at his potter's wheel. The magic I felt when I first laid my hands on wet clay gave me the belief that I could do something interesting with my life. It opened up doors to meaning and possibility that showed me, for the first time, that I had talents and capabilities no one had seen before and that I had never dreamed of. I'm convinced that those insights not only gave me a vision for my future, they literally saved my life." The arts are truly an important part of our history, who we are and our future. I have often felt like Bill when I sit down and begin brainstorming meaningful experiences for our educators and our students. The belief that I have the opportunity and capacity to dream big and make those dreams come alive can at times be rewarding and daunting all at the same time.

As Bill notes in his book "success isn't a destination....Authentic success, the kind of success that will enrich your life and enlarge your spirit, the only kind of success that matters, comes from knowing and trusting." This fall our students have had many opportunities to authentically experience the power of the arts. The arts can truly serve as a bridge and connect you to a wider world - exposure to the arts can be a powerful game changer. While discussing what it is like to be a High School Freshman the past couple of weeks, our daughter has indicated that being a member of the marching band, making music every day and working with a group has pulled her through the tough challenges of being a freshman. While walking through our art classrooms I have seen many students engaged in designing and creating Pinwheels for Peace along with many other student created projects.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to continue to develop and strengthen the partnership that we have with the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra. This past week was a rewarding time as many dreams and discussions with Ryan Haskins, Musical Director of the Sioux City Symphony came to fruition. Our students had the following opportunities to be authentically engaged in the arts this past week in partnership with the Sioux City Symphony.
  • Two World Cultures classes, one from North High and one from West High were set up to skype with Dr. Reeves, curator from the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota in preparation for their time to travel to the Sioux City Orpheum to learn more about Indonesian Culture and learn to play the Gamelan on Monday morning.
  • Wednesday and Thursday, six percussion classes (2- West High,  2- North High,  2- North Middle), two World Cultures classes and one 5th grade band traveled to the Orpheum to work with Dr. Reeves and learn how to play the Gamelan. Our Mass Communications class from East High also joined us to create a video of our authentic experiences.
  • On Tuesday, 1,157 of our district 6th grade students and educators, came together at the Orpheum to hear the Sioux City Symphony demonstrate the many moods, melodies, and gestures of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, one of the most famous compositions ever written in a program: "THROUGH THE DARKNESS - INTO THE LIGHT". Through live, musical demonstrations and examples, the Sioux City Symphony helped students to explore facets of the music and the orchestra itself. Students and educators joined in with other schools to sing "The Choral" (Ode to Joy)".
  • On Thursday and Friday mornings, the principal Bass, Oswald P. Backus V, worked with our students at West High and North High as part of the Sioux City Symphony outreach program.
  • Saturday, the Sioux City Symphony provided 227 tickets for our students and families to attend the symphony concert: A Night at the Museum: A Collaboration with the National Music Museum
As Bill states in his book on p 103, "...nobody could have planned a place like this. It had to rise up, had to be conjured up, as a natural, almost inevitable expression of someone's desperate search for meaning and purpose". With that, I am grateful to serve in the capacity as Arts and Community Engagement Program Coordinator. To have the opportunity to dream, discuss, and bring great opportunities to our students is "Making the Impossible Possible"! A heartfelt and gracious thanks to Ryan Haskins, Musical Director, the Sioux City Symphony Board and the Sioux City Community School District for continuing this partnership for the betterment of our students and community.

Our Mass Communications Class interviewing Dr. Reeves.

Students from Hunt learning to play the Gamelan.

Students learning the history of the Gamelan.

Experiencing the Gamelan.

Learning to play the Gamelan.

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