By: Janet M Kelly
While the Covid Pandemic has shut doors in many areas, the doors to art instruction are wide open at Kings River Elementary School, a K-8th grade Kingsburg High feeder school in Tulare County.
Besides academics, Kings River has maintained an active arts program in all four areas of art instruction: visual, music, dance, and drama. Arts at Kings River are best explained by 8th grade student Andrew L. “The classes get my brain going and I get to be creative, which I really like to do. I like music. I like to challenge myself, which happens often in band. The feeling of accomplishment I get when I learn something is great.”
Visual Arts: The visual arts are directed by professional artist Ms. Jenny Burrow, an accomplished painter whose art was recently showcased at the National Art Educators Association in Alexandria, Virginia. Her talents help all students from GATE students currently learning about Ancient Egypt to weekly on-line Zoom instruction in art elements. Evan K., a fourth grade student, has high praise for his art classes. “I have been in the art class with Ms, Burrow for a few years. If our art is really good, she enters it into competitions. Some of my artwork was even sent to Boston.” This week Kings River’s visual art will reach into the home as families are invited to join “Family Paint Night” on March 25th. All supplies are provided by the school, and families will be able to do a paint-along with Ms. Burrow doing guided painting on Zoom. Eighth grade Jacky V. is looking forward to the adventure. She said, “I am joining the Family Paint Night because I enjoy painting and being able to express myself through something other than words.”
Music: Band, Chorus, and Classroom music is taught by Blake Jones, a professional musician as well as music instructor and song-writer. Students from Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade are exposed to music instruction. Jonathan V. gives high praises to Kings River’s music instruction. “I learned how to play drums, and Mr. Jones explains how to read music for other instruments so I can play other instruments if I wanted to. Mr. Jones makes it simple to understand. I like that making changes to notes can make a new note or sound, and they build on each other.” Junior Chorus, under the direction of second grade teacher Ms. Sullivant, invites 2nd and 3rd grade students to join in the performing experience as well… an early start to developing both musical skill and confidence.
Dance: Since 2010, Ballet instruction has been part of Kings River’s art offerings. Funded by Valley Performing Arts Council and The Larry Hillblom Foundation, professional dancers give weekly instruction to students in classical ballet. Students have school based recitals and have performed in The Nutcracker along with the Sacramento Ballet at the Saroyan Theater.
For the past eighteen years, Kings River School students have reenacted the lives and experiences of Civil War era children using the exact words written by children in the 1860’s. Through drama, the students bring history to life for the hundreds of visitors at the Fresno Historic Society’s Civil War Revisited at Kearney Park. Coached by Mr. Patrick Delgado, the students show the audience something much deeper than just a play; they demonstrate the effect of war on children. Fifth grader Gretchen K shared,
“It was super fun to interact with kids from other grades and I learned way more about The Civil War while acting it out.”
Jacky V, agreed,
“It was hard work but worth it. I got to make new friends. I got to learn about history in a way that was fun and interactive.”
Kings River’s Choices, an after school program, is involved in drama as well, presenting “Lion King Jr.” under the direction of the Tulare County Office of Education. Ms. Sherry Martin, Kings River’s Superintendent, stated the district’s commitment to the arts. A team at Kings River Union in partnership with the Tulare County Office of Education is developing a TK-8 Arts Education Strategic Plan to ensure that every child at KRUE experiences a robust Arts Education during their time here.
KRUE is committed to developing the WHOLE child during their time in our District. Kings River Union has developed a Multi-tiered System of Support which includes Arts education to help every child reach their full potential while supporting their academic, social-emotional, and behavioral growth and development.
These are but a few examples of the enrichments Kings River Union Elementary School offers its students.
Kings River Union Elementary School, where student learning is… an art.