Vocal Music and Theater (2021-2022)
The sudden COVID closures in 2020 and into 2021 created a very different, lonely school experience for many students due to the cancellation of extracurricular activities, assemblies, and more. Now as we are preparing for the 2021-2022 school year, there is a need and demand in our community to come back together, to revive live performances, to resume extracurricular activities, and rehearse together again without the 'lag' of virtual classes.
This grant will fund a few specific things related to our Arts offerings at Raymond Cree Middle School:
1. Each school year (except during COVID) the RCMS vocal-music director puts on an after-school play/musical. Our school shows have been good quality despite having very small, self-sustaining budgets and aging infrastructure. Past productions include properly-licensed "Jr." versions of "High School Musical," "Into the Woods," "Xanadu," and more. Our 2020 show "Honk!" had to be cancelled due to the COVID closures. ACF grant funding will enable the director/teacher to build better set pieces with the students, rent some specialty costumes instead of piecing things together from students' own closets, and step-up our staging by hiring a Choreographer for some of the song & dance numbers.
2. Our Music Appreciation (Music History) class is a recent addition over the past few years. Much of a typical music-history curriculum is Eurocentric; university music programs typically do not include as much non-Western music history, styles or culture as they do with Western/Eurocentric study. As a teacher I recognize this blind-spot in my own education, and grant funding will enable me to pursue some outside training and to purchase more diverse materials for class use.
3. Our Chorus and Band classrooms do not have typical student desks. As such, when we are engaged in lessons about music notation, music history, etc., students typically take notes on their laps. Using grant funds to purchase a set of lapdesks will give students a simple, easy-to-put-away, writing surface to use in class.
Contact: Jeff Kopasz RCMS Music & Theatre
Engineering 360 (2019-2020, 2018-2019)
Raymond Cree is in its second year developing a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program for students in grades 6-8. I believe that the addition of Makerbot 3D printers would allow all students to become focused on creative work that can solve tomorrow's problems with the innovations of today. Makerbot 3D Printers are rapidly changing how we think, build and imagine. The MakerBot 3D printer will improve our learning environment by exposing our students to current technology. We will explore the design of bridges and their fundamental engineering principles through current computer software. Students can use the 3D printer with our Robotics program that would use it to replicate or add parts to their designs of their competitive robots. In Science we can see changes in the earth's surface or a model of a life cycle. Students will be using mathematics throughout the creative process as they decide the shape, width, height, etc. of their design. The art and music departments can also benefit from the use of a 3D printer by studying sculpture, shapes, musical instruments, and other aspects of art and music. My ultimate goal is to give students a chance to create their own designs using their own ideas.
Goals for use of ACF Funds:
- Develop collaborative and critical-thinking skills
- Learn computer coding and programming
- Design projects using Thingiverse and/or Tinkercad
- Design and build projects that they have an interest in
- Apply real-world math and engineering to every project
- Allow students to be creative with art, music and other discipline
Vocal Music (2018-2019, 2017-2018)
Raymond Cree Middle School is the oldest middle school in Palm Springs Unified School District. The RCMS Vocal Music program is comprised of multiple choirs from beginning to advanced levels and is open to all students in grades 6-8, plus an Exploratory Music elective rotation for 6th graders. RCMS Choirs perform in three major concerts: Winter Choral Concert, Spring Choral Concert, and an end-of-year Broadway “Pops” Concert. Select choirs also participate in additional school and civic events including the PSUSD “SongFest” district concert, Christmas Caroling at local nursing homes, and RCMS’ unique “Harvey Milk Day” Celebration. Intermediate and Advanced choirs also attend SCVA Choral Festivals in the spring which serve as a performance assessment via an onstage performance. This past year, the SCVA Festival also began including a separate Sightreading assessment to evaluate students’ ability to actually read music.
Before signing up for one of the Choirs as an elective class, most RCMS students have no consistent prior exposure to formal music instruction. As such, the Anderson grant will help us add a significant amount of unison, 2-part and 3-part choral music to our music library. RCMS is the oldest middle school in PSUSD, and though there are existing sets of sheet music from the 70's and 80's in our files, most of the existing music is heavily classical and composed for SATB choirs which is actually high-school-level difficulty, unusable with our current choirs. In addition to the existing stock, there were many years of low or nonexistent Arts budgets which caused previous directors to rely heavily on illegal photocopies; there is very little music in our current library which was purchased in the 90's or 2000's. I have purged the library of any remaining photocopies; this past year we needed to spend a large amount of money on sheet music since there was not much music I could re-use from previous years. The Anderson grant will enable us to to expand the music library such that students can have a three-year cycle in the Vocal Music program without repeating material. We will also utilize grant funds to expand our choir uniform stock with additional sizes of dresses, vests and pants, and we will also be able to purchase a new music storage cabinet.
With the 2018-2019 grant, we purchased a set of new Wenger "Signature" choral risers that are shared between RCMS and PSHS for concerts and performances. This modern model can be set up, taken down, and moved on wheels MUCH safer, faster, feel lighter, and include backrails for safety/fall protection. The new "Signature" risers will be used in multiple concerts, assemblies, and events each year at both RCMS and PSHS. Also, since a few other PSUSD schools have the same "Signature" risers, we can combine multiple sets to accommodate large combined choirs each spring at the annual PSUSD "SongFest" district choral concert. This year's SongFest included choirs from nine PSUSD schools; what a great number of singers to see onstage!
When students experience a better-quality performance experience like this, students feel their work is being valued; our choir students will feel a sense of equality and equity when they see that they have comparable equipment across sites.
Band Boosters (2015-2016)
The Raymond Cree Middle School Instrumental Program promotes student and community interest in the performing arts by providing musical, cultural, and education experiences not other-wise offered in school. Specific goals of the program include developing skills in reading and listening to music, performing with self-expression and an awareness of the role of music in history and culture. Students are encouraged to set high standards, develop problem-solving strategies, learn new skills, and explore their artistic creativity. Self-esteem is increased through individual and group accomplishments. The Instrumental Music Program includes over 220 students which make up the following musical ensembles: Wind Ensemble, Advanced Band, three Beginning Bands, Marching Band, Stage Band, Beginning Honor Band, and Solo and Chamber Ensemble.