Performance English Students Participate in the Symposium of the Arts


J. Hackett

Performance English students at the annual Symposium of the Arts

Sarah Kearsley, Staff Writer

The annual Symposium of the Arts was held at Roosevelt School on March 27-28 for fifth grade students from Hawthorne and surrounding towns. Hawthorne High School’s Performance English classes participated to help make it a fun and educational day.

The Symposium was a two-day workshop for fifth grade students who show a particular interest in the performing arts. It consisted of learning activities to enhance the students’ knowledge in the performing arts. Teachers chose selected students from Hawthorne, Haledon, Woodland Park, Prospect Park, and Paterson to participate in this event.

HHS English Teacher Jill Hackett brought 22 of her own Performance English I and II students as well. The purpose of her students participating in the Symposium was to help them gain communication skills with younger students and improve their own skills in the arts. She added, “Many of the Performance students excel in the performing arts (acting, dance, music, creative writing, and art), so working with the children in those areas fosters confidence and practical application of many skills that the Performance English class learns throughout the year.”

This year, the theme of the Symposium was “fairy tales.” Students split up into different groups and had to create their own version of a modern-day Cinderella. Students were told to follow certain guidelines, which included: set the story in their hometown in 2014, use three musical instruments (real or homemade) and two vocal selections, dance continuously for five minutes in two distinct styles, and include at least five audience members. Hackett said, “My students were amazed at just how prepared these young students come to the event – they came with costumes, instruments like guitars or trumpets, props, and many creative ideas!  One boy came with bungee cords in case they wanted to make the fairy godmother fly! So funny!”

On the second day, each group of students was given three hours, along with the help of one of Hackett’s students, to create their production. During this time students had to write their scripts, create their props and background, write their music, and figure out all of their choreography. At 12:45 p.m. all of the students gathered in the gym to give their performances. Hackett said it was a complete success and truly enjoyable for everyone. “As the teacher of Performance English, I really loved watching my students work with the young students.  They were all in the roles of ‘teacher,’ and it was great to see them all act so responsibly and professionally when helping these young kids enjoy something that means so much to us (and the) performing arts!”

When Hackett asked her students their opinions of the experience, they replied with, “It was fantastic!”  “Awesome!” “Loved it!”  “Great Experience!”  “Those kids are so fun and so talented!”  “I would do it again!’” This was a fun and educational trip for everyone from teachers to students.