Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp embarks on new initiative |

Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp embarks on new initiative

Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts that will fund its new Perry-Mansfield in the Community initiative, a collaboration effort with South Routt schools that will bring Perry-Mansfield faculty to co-teach at area campuses, integrating dance, theater and musical theater as part of the core curriculum.
John F. Russell

— Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp was recently awarded funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for the organization’s new Perry-Mansfield in the Community initiative.

Last week, Jane Chu, chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts, announced that Perry-Mansfield would receive $10,000 for its new initiative, which will bring renowned national, state and local dance, theatre and musical theatre faculty to co-teach in Hayden and South Routt Schools during the 2016-17 school year.

According to Perry-Mansfield Executive Director Nancy Engelken, the program will integrate the performing arts into the core curriculum subjects of English, science, social studies, math and physical education to increase student understanding of key concepts taught in the classroom.

“Think of students setting Shakespeare to original song, creating skits and improvisation work to understand composition and literature and choreographing an original dance to illustrate the chemical reaction between cake and cookie ingredients so they rise, and you can understand how great a teaching tool the performing arts can be, “ Engelken said. “This program is a collaboration between Perry-Mansfield and the South Routt and Hayden schools to help students learn and make learning fun.”

The Perry-Mansfield in the Community program was created last summer by Perry-Mansfield faculty, staff, teachers and administration, as well as support staff from the Hayden and South Routt schools. They expect to have national and Colorado-based faculty who will be brought into these select schools.

“What I appreciate about this initiative is that it integrates our school with the community in a unique way,” said Kendra DeMicco, who teaches ninth-grade English, 11th-grade English and honors English, in addition to sixth- through 12th-grade theatre arts. “I believe that collaboration is one of the most important skills a student can cultivate, and I am excited about the students being involved with this kind of larger-scale, school-community collaboration.”

DeMicco said the Perry-Mansfield in the Community program will be integrated into one of her English classes next year.

“My hope is that this program will provide an opportunity for students to engage in their learning in a creative, experiential way, one that provides a unique activation of both the course content and student creativity,” DeMicco said.

According to an NEA announcement, Perry-Mansfield is one of only 15 organizations in Colorado to receive funding from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works program in the spring 2016 grant round. In addition, Perry-Mansfield was the only organization in the state to receive funding through NEA’s Arts Education program division.

“We anticipate seeing personal growth in young people — their self-confidence and an excitement about their own creativity — that we see every summer at Perry-Mansfield,” Engelken said. “Students will be creating new work, stretching their imaginations, working as an ensemble with their classmates and performing everything they create for their families and communities at their schools.”

South Routt and Hayden schools were chosen for the pilot program based on the lack of after-school arts programs in those communities, enthusiasm for the program and support for the arts within the schools, Engelken said.

“Depending on how this goes, we would love to be able to expand the program and include more districts,” she said. “It’s a unique program, nationally, and it’s exactly what our founders would have loved to see happen. We are going out even more into the community.”

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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