MONTREAL, JANUARY 24, 2014 – While James Lyng High School in St. Henri and St. Gabriel Elementary School in Pointe St. Charles have greatly enhanced their arts programs, there is plenty of activity taking place across the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).
At a press conference held at James Lyng on January 24, the Arts are Alive @EMSB showcase featured the presence of the Urban Xpression Mural (the YMCA Urban-Arts after school program at James Lyng), En Masse (a mural prepared in conjunction with Sinclair Laird Elementary School in Park Extension and LaurenHill Academy students from St. Laurent), Art Union (a large scale collage mural with Laurier Macdonald High School students), Laurier Macdonald High School (Advanced Visual Arts/Multimedia/Photography/Visual Art), BASE Daycare (sculpting), St. Gabriel Elementary School (new arts projects and music), Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount (unveiling of new EMSB promotional poster), Speak Up EMSB (spoken word poetry with students from Marymount Academy in NDG, James Lyng High School and Laurier Macdonald High School), the award winning Royal Vale High School in NDG Glee Club, the Coronation Elementary School in Côte des Neiges Steel Pan Band and Concordia Art Education Student Teachers from a select few elementary schools (Cedarcrest and Gardenview in St. Laurent, Merton in Côte Saint-Luc, Nesbitt in Rosemount and St. Gabriel).
Here is a look at just some of the other arts programs at the EMSB:
- FACE School in downtown Montreal is an acronym that stands for Fine Arts Core Education. Its educational program combines academic and artistic development, with an emphasis on the fine arts. They offer advanced drama, visual arts, instrumental and vocal music programs, as well as student participation in recitals, theatrical productions and concerts, which are a central part of the curriculum. Extra-curricular activities include ceramics, studio art, symphony orchestra, jazz and blues bands, men’s and chamber choirs and the FACE Jeunes Chanteurs. This is a Kindergarten to Secondary V school operated jointly by the Commission Scolaire de Montréal and the EMSB.
- At Merton School in Côte St. Luc and Edinburgh School in Montreal West, all students are given a comprehensive music program from veteran music teacher David Eves, who regularly divides his week between the two schools. The students get a full year of music theory and instruction, ranging from reading rhythms and playing in ensembles, to learning melody, instrumental music and playing in a band. “My focus is to instill music literacy on the students, in which music is used as a way to promote cross curricular development and teach them how to multi-task,” said Mr. Eves. Every spring, the students at both schools perform what they have learned at a music festival. Last year, the senior class at Merton did an eight-week composition project, in which they composed and wrote their own song dealing with anti-bullying called ‘Don’t You Hear Me?’ It was performed for the first time at the school’s music festival last April.
- The EMSB Chorale, under the direction of Patricia Abbott, is now in its 34th season. They continue to add to their impressive resume of chorale performances this year, which includes contributing to the soundtrack album of Philip Falardeau’s upcoming movie “The Good Lie”; participating in the 11th annual CBC McGill Youth Choir Gala; performing Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” with the Orchestre Métropolitain; and this April, they will perform for the first time at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra’s new Maison symphonique.
- Coronation Elementary School in Côte des Neiges is best known for its Steel Pan Band. This extra-curricular activity has junior and senior bands for Cycle II and III students. Steel Pan lessons are offered on a biweekly basis, where students learn about notes and play various songs as a group. Both Steel Pan bands perform in concerts and special events throughout the year.
- Rosemount High School is the only English high school in Montreal to offer a special Music Concentration Program. This performance based program gives students the opportunity to play an instrument and participate in a band setting. They also get the chance to develop their singing voice, use basic piano skills, compose their own music, as well as understand and experience different types of music from around the world. The students have access to some of the best state of the art musical resources, including a computer lab with specialized music software, two large sound proof music rooms and an auditorium that can hold an 80-piece concert band. The Rosemount High School Symphonic Winds Orchestra performs in several public concerts every year, as well as participates in major music festivals, intensive weekend-long music camps and private workshops that are conducted by professional musicians.
- LaurenHill Academy in St. Laurent offers music as a fine arts subject to all of its students from Grades 7 to 11, and specializes in teaching music in the jazz/rock idiom. Every student in the music program has the opportunity to join one of the school’s bands as an extracurricular activity. Its concert and jazz bands have performed in many concerts and special events, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival. LaurenHill’s Dance Department is now in its 30th year, in which guest instructors teach the students a variety of dance styles such as ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern and tap dance. Its two main goals are to instill discipline and commitment towards being a good dancer and to foster an appreciation of the arts that will last a lifetime. Its Drama Department helps students discover who they are and relate to other people through the arts. Every year, LaurenHill produces and stages a large-scale Broadway-style musical as an extracurricular activity; last year, they staged “South Pacific.”.The school also has its own radio station called “The Voice,” the first ever online high school radio station that airs to the public. The LaurenHill Glee Club came in second place in the recent Glee High School Showdown.
- Roslyn Elementary School in Westmount offers a wide range of lunchtime arts-related programs. They include art exploration, art studio, origami, photography, gift mania (where students learn to make works of art that can be given as gifts), creative video, performing arts, dance and movement, modern dance, drama and violin. The school also offers the following after school arts programs: music studio (where students learn to make their own music and record it), cooking academy and piano.
- Royal Vale High School in NDG is known for its Glee Club, which captured the recent Glee High School Showdown for the second year in a row. Besides showcasing their incredible singing talents, the students were part of an event which raised over $127,000 for the Just For Kids Foundation to purchase of equipment for the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
- Royal West Academy in Montreal West has its after school theatre troupe The Bardolators, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Composed of students from Grades 7 to 11, the Bardolators have staged everything from Broadway musicals to Shakespeare plays; their most recent production was the classic Shakespeare tragedy “Hamlet,” which was presented for three nights last month. The group is still under the direction of its founding artistic director Douglas Floen. Royal West Academy also has its Honour Band (a concert band), as well as a school choir and the RWA Winds Junior Band.
- St. Dorothy Elementary School in St. Michel has its own drama club, run by professional actor Elsa Perez. Ms. Perez teaches students all of the elements of putting on a play, such as memorizing lines, costumes, blocking, music, creating a character and comic timing. Each year, the drama Club presents a production for the public such as Cinderella, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz.
- Westmount High School has several arts-related clubs and activities, including the drama department, which will present a spring concert on March 21, as well as productions of “Les Miserables” on April 3 and “A Raisin in the Sun” on April 17; a guitar club for both beginners and advanced; an improv club, in which the group will compete at the Canadian Improv Games; and production crew, where students learn recording and production techniques, as well as the business side of the recording industry.
- Willingdon Elementary School in NDG music specialist Nick Batzios teaches music education. They learn to sing on pitch and play many musical instruments. Regarding the latter, Willingdon holds an annual spring concert, where students in Grades 4, 5 and 6 perform a variety of musical and vocal numbers; and every December, the members of the Willingdon choir perform a selection of Christmas holiday songs at the annual Toy Tea charity event at Tudor Hall in Ogilvy’s Department Store in downtown Montreal.
- Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount has a drama club called “Actors Anonymous, and its students has performed in such stage productions as “Cut,” “The Outsiders” and “Grease.” The Visual Arts program at VMC embraces the school’s philosophy of offering students an enriched curriculum. At the Secondary I level, the focus is on developing the students’ abilities in both drawing and painting and developing a language to discuss an artwork. Students learn about linear perspective, water colour painting, and collage. Students in Secondary II continue to develop these skills along with the introduction of printmaking, ceramics, and stop-motion animation. In Secondary III, the students are introduced to how art is directly linked with society. The students create personalized projects focusing on architecture, sculpture and photography. Students also engage with the community with an annual community based art project. At VMC, students have the option in Secondary V to further pursue their interests in the visual arts with projects focusing on advertizing, edible art, and photography. At all levels, students attend field trips to local museums and there are always visiting artists coming to the school to work with the students on special projects. To showcase the arts at VMC, there is the annual Journée de la Culture and Music in May Concert. Students have also the option of joining various clubs such as Actors Annynomous, the Art Club and the Jazz Band.
- Marymount Academy in NDG has a wide variety of clubs and extra-curricular activities that deal with arts and culture, such as an annual arts vernissage, a musical stage show, an improv team, junior and senior concert bands, jazz band, a recording club, a radio team that’s run by veteran broadcaster Sharman Yarnell, a student web series run under the guidance of teacher Lauriane Smolla, and on February 27, the school will be hosting “Speak Up Montreal!” the EMSB’s first-ever spoken word competition.
- At Cedarcrest Elementary School in St. Laurent every child is encouraged to express themselves musically and to explore their own musicality. “We encourage this mostly by singing and playing percussion instruments,” says music teacher Ian Hanchet. “I have combined my passion for music and my professional experience as a musician as well as 10 years practicing music therapy to provide a unique learning experience for all.”
Other EMSB schools that have drama programs as part of their curriculum or as an extra- curricular include Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary School in Montreal West, General Vanier Elementary School in St. Léonard, Our Lady of Pompei Elementary School in Ahuntsic, and St. Monica Elementary School in NDG.
Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213