The Educational Experience at Aspen School District: Theater + Music
Aspen School District (ASD) believes exposure to the arts is an essential component of a well-rounded educational experience that leads to healthy self-expression, self-confidence, and overall personal growth. Students from all schools within the district are lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in theater and music, both in the classroom and in afterschool programs. Below, three members of the arts faculty at ASD hold forth about the importance of arts education and its lasting impact on the lives of our students:
Marnie White teaches choral and music classes at Aspen Elementary, Mark Thompson leads the choir, instrumental and concert band at Aspen Middle School and Logan Carter heads up the theater programs for the middle and high schools.
Why is theater important to the success of the students involved?
Theatre teaches us how to be human. It’s about communication and expression, empathy and compassion. These are critical skills needed in a digital world where our students are growing up on their phones. It’s about taking risks, getting out of one’s comfort zone and building self-confidence, learning how to work as a team, commitment and persistence. Students have come into the program with very little self-esteem or direction in life and I have seen what theatre does for them. They find a family, they are supported and they discover skills and talent they never knew they had and wouldn’t find in any other setting. I have seen theatre give a lost student a purpose and passion.
Logan Carter - Theatre Director, Aspen School District
Why is music vital to the success of the students involved in the program?
Music is highly influential in so many ways. Studies show a direct correlation between participation in school music programs and increased test scores. Students who study music show better executive functioning skills, higher social skills, express greater feelings of happiness and contentment and are better listeners. Not everyone is terribly successful in school academics; for some students, the only thing that keeps them coming back to school is the ability to participate in the arts.
Marnie White - Choir/Music Director, Aspen Elementary School
What are the growth opportunities for the middle and high school choir?
2017 was the first year, in several years, that choir has been included as a curricular course. In the coming years, we are hoping to expand the program to include more students (in all grade-levels) while continuing the support into high school. The program has given students an opportunity to perform for a variety of audiences in locations across Colorado (Denver, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Rifle) and the country (Los Angeles). We are looking forward to providing more performance opportunities for students in the years to come.
Mark Thompson—Band/Choir, Aspen Middle School
What are the needs of the theater/music departments?
- Purchase of new instruments or repair of existing instruments
- Travel expenses for performance opportunities
- Replacing 25-year-old choral risers for K-12 use
- Hosting guest artists for additional exposure to new instruments/performances
- Higher-quality, more professional theater programming
- Hiring professional designers and directors to work with students and elevate production quality