Teacher Spotlight

High School Fine Arts

Fine Arts Yield High Achievement

The spotlight shines on the fine arts at the high school and three exemplary teachers: Dr. Alan Denney, Kaylin Brennan, and Valerie Bowles. Many research studies support that music and art have a positive impact on the brain and learning. Students engaged in art during their education won more academic awards, received more community service awards, and got higher test results (Stanford University Study 2016). Playing a musical Instrument regularly increased IQ by 7 points in children and adults (Lutz Jäncke, University of Zurich). In addition, data released by the College Board in 2011 revealed that students who take 4 years of art or music score an average of 100 points higher on the SAT. Our district places high value on our arts programs for students because of the high impact the fine arts have on overall cognitive development and success.

Valerie Bowles: Visual Arts

The high school art room is an explosion of color. In the front of the room the various art types and styles that students are learning are displayed. Supplies of various kinds are spread throughout the room for students to use and explore. Some of the most exemplary artwork that students have produced is displayed around the room. It is an environment that ignites the creativity that flows from students.
Creativity is the obvious Global Outcome for the fine arts and it is visible everywhere as students take blank canvases and turn them into creative representations of themselves, their culture, their community, and their beliefs. While creativity shines bright, all of the Global Outcomes are present in Mrs. Bowles classroom.

On my visit to the classroom last week I saw global awareness and compassion for the environment prevailing in a beautiful painting a student was working on. It portrayed flowers growing out of plastic garbage. Perseverance was displayed at another table where Mrs. Bowles helped frustrated students overcome some obstacles with the glaze they were using for their pottery. Three students collaborated on a painting project in the back of the room.

Since art is an elective choice and students have many required classes to take, students can't always find a place for art in their schedules. To increase student's access to the fine arts, Mrs. Bowles has extended these opportunities outside of the classroom. She has started an art club and has opened the classroom doors for all students to come into the art room and work on art projects when they have free time in their schedule.

The vision of the art club is to produce art to donate within the school and community. One of the current art club projects that students are working on is creating bowls from pottery that they will donate to Crossroads for the Souper Bowl fundraising event.

Dr. Alan Denney: Choir

This fall the high school choir brought me to tears with a beautiful version of Ave Maria. The students spread throughout the auditorium and sang from the audience and you could pick out each individual vocalist as the room erupted in beautiful harmony.

The choral program at Estes Park High School is exemplary and for a small community the number of students participating in the choral program is impressive. Dr. Denney continues to build a large choir, and that is because the students love it! He brings a witty sense of humor to the classroom and keeps his students smiling and laughing.

Students are provided with opportunities outside of the classroom to perform and showcase their talent. Students sing at Poppy's and Mama Rose's in downtown Estes Park two times a year, they perform at various community events, and students can take a trip to New York City and perform at Carnegie Hall. Dr. Denney is dedicated to providing these extended opportunities for students. The time and commitment he puts into producing the school musical every fall is appreciated.

If you have been to any of the productions, you know the level of talent he is able to bring out of his students. This fall's production of "Legally Blonde" was a huge success and contained a dynamic cast and challenging music that the students mastered in a short amount of time. Hat's off to Dr. Denney, his team of directors choreographers, and great cast!

Kaylin Brennan: Band

The marching band begins the season in the blazing heat and finishes in the freezing cold. It is impossible to win a state band competition without strong collaboration, communication, and perseverance. These are valued Global Outcomes that are the core of marching band. Our band has a history of being at the top. We have won four state band competitions over the last five years. The band spends long hours together and become a family who relies on one another. Kaylin Brennan is the leader of that family.
Students in 5th grade pick up a musical instrument for the first time and four years later in high school are playing flawless harmony and rhythms. Ms. Brennan has to master every instrument in order to teach students how to play and this is a challenge for a band director in a rural community. She embraces this challenge with a positive and optimistic attitude.

In addition to teaching students how to play a variety of instruments, she brings creativity to the performances. The marching band performance is a display of athleticism and creative dance. She challenged students to create videos of their interpretation of the music which played behind them at the spring concert. She is creative in the ways you wouldn't imagine and provides students a chance to make the music they play meaningful to themselves and inspiring to their audiences.

Global Outcomes in Band and Choir

The band and choral programs provide performance learning environments that foster Global Outcomes. Students are challenged to prepare performances on an ongoing basis for an authentic audience and put learning on display.

The Global Outcome of perseverance is noticeable in the weeks leading up to these performances when students critique and fine tune their performance which presents obstacles and frustration for students to overcome.

Students learn to communicate and collaborate with each other effectively to produce a show. If you were lucky enough to see the marching band show this winter, you would have seen a great display of physical wellness watching students march, run, and dance across the field. Dr. Denney and Ms. Brennan choose pieces of music that highlight the Global Outcomes and discuss these connections with students.

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