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The Arts - Central to the Waterford Experience

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
The Waterford Dance Academy trains dancers in modern, classic, and ballet from age three through high school.
Students amaze at Waterford Dance Academy's The Sleeping Beauty. PC: HCM

Like the whole of our program, there are very few schools that can claim the extraordinary depth and phenomenal breadth of the Arts present here at Waterford.

Our arts program is, in a word, world class--from strings, to choral, to dance and theater to painting, drawing, sculpture and ceramics, and photography--Waterford’s commitment to excellence in the Arts is unparalleled.

Earlier this winter, Waterford students earned three photo, two drawing and painting, and one ceramics award at the Springville Museum of Arts exhibition.  

More recently, 147 awards were earned by the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools at the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Of the 147 regional award winners, four students earned National Scholastic Arts Awards, receiving two silver and two gold key awards in poetry, drawing and photography. Only 1% of regional award winners went on to become nationally recognized.

Two weeks ago we enjoyed Arts Week, an amazing experience with exhibitions and performances by our students throughout the week. Visiting artist Burk Uzzle was a valuable addition to the week, a model we will try to replicate in the future.

And at the 2A, Region 14 Large and Solo and Ensemble Music Festival (held at Waterford), 32 of our 53 regional entries qualified for state.

Our Troubadours placed first in the Heritage Choral Festival in Honolulu, HI.  

The Waterford Dance Academy put on a breathtaking performance of The Sleeping Beauty.

Our orchestra will be traveling abroad this summer to perform in Helsinki, Estonia, St. Petersburg, and Moscow.

I could go on…

As you know, from the beginning the Arts have been a vital part of the Waterford experience and an essential element of a liberal arts education. The Arts provide an important domain to explore passions, work deeply and broadly – and as our mission states – build a “repertory of ways of learning.”

Why do the Arts work at Waterford?

First: an uncompromising commitment to support practitioners as teachers.

This attribute is on display often. I remember our winter Middle School band concert when teachers Josh Holder, Dan Chamberland, and Scott Harris mesmerized the crowd--both as musicians and as teachers.

I am blown away by all of the amazing arts faculty here at Waterford, all deeply devoted to their craft. They are extraordinary artists and inspiring teachers, and this intersection of vocation models such a positive balance for our students.

The second reason I think the arts occupy such a special place in the core of the Waterford experience is the tangible and evident philosophical pursuit of one of our central values: beauty.

Beauty, for Plato, was the pathway to the truth. Aristotle saw a relationship between the beautiful and virtue, arguing that "Virtue aims at the beautiful."

Beauty is often the entry point and pathway for deeper and more meaningful reflection, making the arts central to the Waterford experience.  

The arts are an ideal. They make us feel, and they elicit emotion like few other subjects. As a discipline they raise our sights, helping us to develop an aesthetic and sensibility that serves us well in the broad goal of understanding both the simplicity and the complexity of our world.

And finally, and perhaps more practically, as a result of our commitment to the breadth of the program, we develop in our students a dexterity that transcends a particular medium or instrument.

Students are often rendered a humble novice as they grapple with precision, repetition and hard work over instant gratification and easy, rapid reward.

The lines in a play…the pace and intonation…

The notes …chords of an ensemble…

The shading of a landscape…

The throwing and recasting of a pot…

Students build attention to detail as they tackle the granular while also focusing on how the pieces build the whole of the experience.

Time and again students have explained how the arts have helped to instill in them the courage to push into and through areas of discomfort. Through the arts our students confront the beautifully liberating facts that there is no substitute for hard work and that disciplined practice has so many relevant applications.

So thank you to everyone who supports our thriving, vibrant arts program here at Waterford…it is at every turn spectacular!