All students in Lawton Academy participate in vocal music in some capacity. In the elementary, we group Pre-K through 1st grade students together for Cub Choir. Students in Cub Choir learn to match pitch and learn simple theory lessons like steady beat, rhythm, and note reading. The Cubs perform at the Christmas program and then do a one-act musical in which all students have a part in the spring.
Students in grades 2 through 5 are in the Pizzazz Choir. The theory lessons are a little harder, moving into sight reading and dictation, and these kids also perform a one-act musical in the spring.
Secondary students participate in three types of music classes: music tech (laying tracks, working with a midi, etc), music theory, and keyboard and guitar chording. After spending the elementary years acquiring the basic skills necessary to read and appreciate music, we desire that secondary students now recreate the music they love.
Specifically vocally, secondary students may try out for the chorus. Students in the chorus compete for positions in all-region choirs, compete in regional solo and ensemble contests, and perform concerts.
Lutz Jäncke, a psychologist at the University of Zurich, said: “Learning to play a musical instrument has definite benefits and can increase IQ by seven points, in both children and adults” (Faculty of 1000 Biology Reports).
We agree. Therefore, students at Lawton Academy begin playing instruments at Pre-K. We start with boomwhackers, each student playing at most two tones… the group working together to play a song. In kindergarten, students move to hand bells, still playing at most two tones. Using xylophones in 1st grade, we move to students playing the entire tune simultaneously with their classmates. This is continued in 2nd grade with ukuleles, and third with recorders. Fourth and fifth graders are introduced to guitars and begin exploring band instruments.
In the secondary school, band instruments are continued for those wishing to compete in state all-region tryouts and solo and ensemble contests. As mentioned in the vocal section, piano and guitar are taught at the secondary level. The emphasis is on chording and tabs.
As with vocal and instrumental development, students at Lawton Academy receive art instruction methodically. In the younger grades, students are encouraged to explore color and spatial qualities. By the 2nd grade, students are learning to cartoon. In third grade, students learn about perspective and how to see lines in relationship to each other rather than as a preconceived shape by drawing a picture upside down. In the 4th and 5th grades students learn shading and more about perspective. Students complete projects in acrylics and pen and ink.
In middle school, students are taught a new medium every quarter. These mediums include watercolor, pencil renderings, pen and ink, charcoal, and acrylics, amongst many others.
High school students receive a broad theme under which they must produce at least three pieces of art a semester. Towards the conclusion of the semester, the students host a “gala” at which they display their pieces. Students also provide all refreshments and perform at an open mic as part of their arts grade.
During the last week of school, students at all grade levels display their art work for judging at the annual LAAS Arts Festival. First place ribbons are given for work that seems to be above what is usually expected from a student that age. Second place ribbons are given for work that is good but expected of that age. Third place ribbons are given to students whose work is really good but has something just not quite right about it. Students are encouraged to continue working on these pieces.
Each year at the LAAS Arts Festival, LAAS Art Patrons are encouraged to donate to the following school year’s fine arts program. This is our predominant source of funding for the arts.
In an age in which technology is advancing at break-neck speeds, we cannot afford to ignore this area as the “art” it is. Our secondary students explore several technological activities. Students in middle school participate in Future Cities competitions, designing a city of the future with specific yearly guidelines. High school students compete in Best Robotics. Both teams have been very successful.
Many of our students participate in our broadcast team, filming, editing, and producing the news for the school each week.
Besides these three formal areas, students are encouraged to use technology in most core classes to present, research, and assimilate information. Students design their own t-shirts and complete their yearbook online, as well.