The mission of the Santa Fe Independent School District Fine Arts is to enrich learning by inspiring students to explore and develop creative expression through the arts. I have witnessed incredible learning partnerships in fine arts across the district. These have included rehearsals and classroom time where assessment is used to inform learners with specific feedback to master skills. Students and educators work together, asking thoughtful questions, offering ideas and sharing applications to enhance the journey in the art form. These learning opportunities often culminate into a student performance or exhibit which offers additional feedback from peers, parents and the community. In our work to support the mastery of the arts, students are provided with a multitude of assessment options.

Before the holiday break, I witnessed this in application. Our 900 seat auditorium was at capacity and in many cases, there was standing room only. Our junior and high schools presented performances which included the junior high dance and theater program, the junior high and high school bands, high school theater, high school dance and elementary, junior high and high school choirs. These performances were polished and provided a snapshot of instruction and learning that has been accomplished at this period in time. While my background is in dance and I am not an expert in theater, music or choral music, I sat in awe of the performances. In many instances I felt I was observing professional performers, not junior high school and high school students and certainly not elementary school students!

The high school band, the “Pride of the Tribe” most recently, at region auditions this year, had students qualify for region band.

Our high school theater students presented “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!” in October, and are not only a performing troupe, but many of our students in theater are also artistic in lighting, sound and stage management. Their training empowers them to run all performances scheduled in the high school auditorium under the direction of our auditorium manager, Peter Kinser. On Nov. 1, Theatre Santa Fe Students had an opportunity to compete in the Texas Renaissance Festival competing with students from all over the state of Texas. They returned with two first place awards. In that same month, they inducted an additional 12 new Thespians into Troupe No. 4868.

Our high school choir had four students advance to region auditions. For the first time in 22 years, Lauren Schanfish will be a part of the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Choir.

A district Rodeo Art Exhibit was open to public viewing on Jan. 11. Districtwide there were 47 first place ribbons, 105 second place ribbons and 39 third place ribbons for a total of 191 entries.

We have much to celebrate in the Fine Arts of our district. Our traditional districtwide musical, “High School Musical,” will open at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Santa Fe High School Auditorium, 16000 state Highway 6. This districtwide collaboration includes art, choral music, band, theater and dance students.

Patti Hanssard is the assistant superintendent for human resources and the public relations officer for SFISD.

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