The Visual Art Program at Mason Prep strives to instill an appreciation of art and teach skills to create artistic expression beginning in the first grade. Students in grades 1 through 6 attend art classes once a week throughout the year and students in grades 7 and 8 attend for one or more quarters by choice. Studio art, a survey and study of techniques in drawing and painting in acrylics, watercolors, oil pastels, pastels, printmaking, pottery, and other media, is offered each semester after school to students in grades 5-8 and 1-4 for 12 week sessions.
Art at Mason Prep is not "arts and crafts", and it is more than drawing and coloring. The art curriculum emphasizes higher level thinking skills related to each developmental stage. Students master skills in the areas of drawing and sketching using colored pencils, markers, crayons, pastels, and oil pastels; painting using watercolors, tempera, and acrylics; pottery and sculpture using a variety of clays; printmaking and printing; weaving; calligraphy and lettering; and architecture. Art appreciation and art history are an essential part of the curriculum in all grades. Eighth grade students visit the National Gallery of Art each year during their trip to Washington, D.C. and docents there have been impressed with their knowledge and understanding. Cross-curricular activities designed to enrich other subject areas are also an important part of the Visual Art program.
All students have their art classes in the James B. White Building. The art room is spacious and equipped with large tables that allow students to spread out and create, two sets of double sinks for clean-up, several drying racks for many classes' paintings, shelves and cubbies for storage, and a computer system that includes a scanner, printer, copier, and projector. In addition, within the art room is another room that houses a computerized kiln for firing hand thrown pottery and tiles.
Student art work is displayed throughout the school during the school year in frames and works by all students, over 300 pieces, are displayed in a special art show on Awards Day each spring. Students also participate in other art shows and contests such as the annual SCISA art show. Throughout the years numerous students have received ribbons. Mason Prep graduates have gone on to pursue art at local private and public high schools and colleges as well as have careers in art fields.
For the past 20 years, Laura Jenkins Thompson has been the art director and teacher of grades 1-8. Mrs. Thompson has a B.A. in Fine Arts and an M.Ed in Special Education and is an award-winning author and artist herself. She teaches to the needs of each individual and encourages all of her students to be creative and strive for excellence. Hers is an active classroom full of joy.
The goals of the music program for first through sixth grades are a chronological music history from the middle ages to today, a progressive study of music theory, multi-cultural studies, and an integration of other core subjects and other arts. First through sixth grade students attend music class once per week. Seventh and eighth graders, in their twice-per-week exploratory music class, learn how to participate in a percussion ensemble and to perform an original and unique musical composition.
As always, the students participate in activities structured around the Nine National Standards of Music Education: singing, playing instruments, improvising their own music, composing their own music, reading music on the staff, listening and analyzing music, evaluating music, understanding music's integration into life, and understanding the history and cultures of music. Each of these standards requires solo and group performance, and our students are supported and encouraged in these areas.
"If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music." ~Gustav Mahler. As you can infer from the quote, music class can be quite an expressive area. Students will be expected to perform artistically with music, art, movement, and some writing. Students will learn how to be more expressive with music through a deeper understanding of how it works.
This class follows the mission statement of Mason Prep School's goal of lifelong learners to produce lifelong music appreciators!
Middle School students have the opportunity to participate in a special enrichment Drama program scheduled during exploratory time in the school day. Every April, the school play is performed twice during the day and once at night for families and friends. Rising seventh and eighth graders are invited to try out in auditions held in May for the next school year's production.
Nearly twenty years ago, under the direction of Dr. Carol Maynard, the program grew out of her seventh and eighth grade Literature classes. The first production for the school was an edited version of Thornton Wilder's classic play, Our Town. In an effort to introduce the greatest playwright in our language, William Shakespeare, to students from first to eighth grades, Dr. Maynard wrote several of Shakespeare's plays for children, such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Original scripts followed: Good Night, Mr. Shakespeare! and Callbacks, both spin-offs inspired by Shakespearean characters and plots. Oedipus the Prince, another original play, is a comical prequel to Sophocles's play Oedipus the King, a staple in Dr. Maynard's eighth grade Literature curriculum.
Besides cultivating their acting talent through scene work and acting workshops, students also sharpen their performance skills through role-playing and self-expression exercises, communication games, and improvisation techniques. A labor of love, Drama is an exciting way to be part of a creative team.
Listen as Mason Prep's Director of Admissions, Marketing, and Development, Lynn Kornya, discusses our school's special area classes, including art and music.