The visual arts offer students alternative ways of thinking, expressing and perceiving. They can be a focus and a safe yet powerful way to take risks. They stimulate imagination, teach flexibility and innovation, build self esteem, foster excellence and bring joy.
Art abounds throughout the school. In preschool classrooms, opportunities to create are often connected to daily lessons. Lower and middle school students take formal instruction with our art specialist teacher in the art studio learning technique, aesthetics, criticism and art history. They develop an awareness and appreciation of art as they experiment with the elements and principles of design, working in an array of different media and building competence through both independent and collaborative work. Projects are frequently integrated with studies in other subjects as well, helping students to make deeper connections to social studies, language arts, math, Spanish and science content. Students display pieces from their portfolios in a culminating art exhibition each spring.
Music offers a deep connection for students, allowing them to express and explore emotions and ideas through writing, singing and movement. MPFS' formal music program is taught by music specialists and encompasses music theory, history and appreciation. Children listen to and sing a wide range of vocal pieces and create instrumental music using rhythmic, melodic and chordal instruments. They receive instruction in recorder and hand chimes in elementary school and learn guitar in middle school. Lower school students participate in choral concerts in the winter and spring.
The deliberate integration of music within other disciplines is also widely practiced at MPFS. In preschool, music helps foster number awareness and seriation skills. In elementary and middle school, teachers use songs to teach history, geography and world cultures; students create instruments as they explore acoustics in science; Spanish vocabulary and culture are taught through musical games; dance and movement are components of PE; musical mnemonics help students learn grammar in language arts.
Drama enriches learning by actively engaging children in self-expression and agency, teaching empathy, developing imagination and creativity, as well as improving memory, public speaking and interpersonal skills. Its most important benefit, though, is the confidence and self-esteem that it builds in children. Through performance, students learn to conquer fear and take risks – essential skills if a child is to fully develop his or her potential.
In preschool classrooms, well-stocked dress up areas provide ample opportunity for dramatic play. Lower school classes write and perform skits in class, and present plays to the entire school community, including original pieces, adaptations from books, and classics. All share a link to learning that has taken place in the classroom during the year. Middle school students can participate in a spring production under the direction of theater professionals. Recent middle school productions have included "Annie", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and Our Town". Drama is also among the more popular afterschool enrichment offerings.