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Students perform at national arts-in-education conference


When educators from across the nation convened in Cleveland to share arts-in-education strategies, CMSD students were there to show them how it’s done.

Participants at the Young Audiences Arts for Learning conference were treated to a musical and acting performance by Oliver H. Perry School students and a demonstration of the Cleveland High School for Digital Arts' live News Reel program (pictured above). Both of the presentations were largely student-created and showcased the District’s partnership with the Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, formerly Young Audiences.

The center was a co-presenter of the conference, which brought together teachers and others in education who are interested in improving student access to the arts and arts learning.

“Because we have this longstanding partnership with CMSD, we wanted to showcase the impact we’re having in the community and what the students are learning,” said Marsha Dobrzynski, CAL's executive director.

Young Audiences Arts for Learning is the nation’s largest arts-in-education learning network, with affiliates in more than 30 cities, including Cleveland. The theme of this year’s conference was "Digital Transformation."

During the lunch break on the first day of the conference, Oliver H. Perry students took to the stage in the Mint Ballroom at the Metropolitan at the 9 hotel in downtown Cleveland. Students from the after-school CAL arts club and the drum corps presented a two-part “live comic book” skit and music performance that they put together with help from three CAL teaching artists who specialize in dance, digital storytelling and theater.

A student narrator introduced the story of a 12-year-old boy who lives on the East Side of Cleveland and attends Oliver H. Perry and loves to write comic books. In the first scene,  the boy was writing a comic when a bully jumped in, stole his comic book and pushed him to the ground. In the second scene, two superheroes from the boy’s comic book came to life to save him.


The backdrop to the skit was a screen where a computer projected comic book visuals to correspond with the acting: “POW” as the bully pushes the boy down. “BANG” as the superheroes take down the bully. The skit was punctuated by performances from the seven-member drum corps led by teacher Dwayne Dixon.

Watch highlights from the Oliver H. Perry performance below.

Day two of the conference opened with the Cleveland High School for Digital Arts'  demonstration of how the school is using digital technology in the classroom. The Center for Arts-Inspired Learning conceived the idea of the high school, which integrates the teaching of core subjects with recording-arts technology, digital filmmaking, video-game design and graphic design.

Through a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, CAL teaching artist and professional cinematographer Mike Fields works daily with a group of students to create films and newsreels. In partnership with WKYC Channel 3, students use live-streaming cameras to present stories to their school with both on and off-site reporting.

Digital Arts sophomores Elijah DeBerry and German Romero were in the ballroom, and junior Nathaniel Louis appeared on screen through a live stream from the high school. DeBerry and Romero acted as journalists out in the field reporting to the audience about the News Reel program. Back in the studio, Louis acted as the anchor.

“Our main goal with the News Reel program is to connect the school together,” Romero said. “I’m interested in becoming an anchor or a journalist, and this program helps us learn how to use the cameras, computers and other digital technology.”

The students also said they and their classmates have had the chance to visit the WKYC set and participate in summer internships there.

CAL teaching artists are working with students in about 20 CMSD schools and have been at even more over the years.  Dobrzynski said she hopes the student showcases helped to inspire the conference attendees to find similarly creative ways use digital arts in their schools.

“It's a great opportunity to demonstrate how we’re using digital media and digital arts in education to help CMSD kids take ownership of their learning,” she said.