By Nick Yates, ISB Communications
The Elementary School (ES) at ISB was awash with color last Tuesday for the 14th annual CASTA (Celebrate and Share the Arts) festival. Parents came to campus to catch shows from ES performing arts classes, and each student chose their favorite work of art to display as the ES was transformed into a giant gallery for the whole school to enjoy.
CASTA is a celebration of all things artistic by ISB's youngest students. Under the Elementary School's model of inclusivity, every student gets to exhibit the fruits of what they have been learning, and a day of gorging on music, dance, and painting gives them plenty of chance to sample their peers' work and develop artistic appreciation.
At ISB, life is about far more than academics, and an appreciation of the arts is recognized as an important part of making students well-rounded individuals. In art and performing arts classes, ES students explore creativity and try their hands at different artistic pursuits.
It is these explorations that are really on show during CASTA. The teacher leads refer to the events parents come to see as "informances" rather than "performances" because they explain to the audience all the class work that has gone into what they are seeing.
"Normally, if you come to a concert, you see the final, two-minute product and that's it. Actually, the important thing as a school is the journey taken to get to the performance. During CASTA, we stand up and show you not just the finished product, but the steps students have taken to get there. It's basically our curriculum on display to the parents and a way to inform them about the process," said ES performing arts teacher Cyndi Campbell, who has been involved with all 14 CASTAs.
The festival has plenty of integration of different artistic disciplines. Ms. Campbell's grade 5 class performed music and dance based on a piece of Middle Eastern art. Over four months, they learned about Middle Eastern design, the region's instruments and musical styles, and thought about how they could represent a solid piece of art in music and movement.
Students on CASTA gallery walkthroughs are given comment cards to note their favorite pieces and write their impressions of them. ES art teacher Karla Stauffer said this is a valuable opportunity to reflect and write about art; "it's also a way of building confidence if students see their work has been the subject of comment cards."
Faculty and students followed the CASTA tradition of sporting tie-dye T-shirts for the day. As ISB increasingly focuses on sustainability, students this year were encouraged to recycle rather than buy new T-shirts to dye. Ms. Stauffer found her artists coloring all kinds of old clothes, with one boy tie-dyeing his turban. Dyed CASTA shirts from previous years were "bedazzled" with decorations. And where the young tailors did use new merchandise, teachers and students negotiated with suppliers to ensure the T-shirts came in minimal packaging, cutting down on waste.
For all involved, CASTA is an important fixture in the year, a day to circle on the calendar in multicolored ink. "It's fantastic that ISB allows us to have CASTA, an entire day of performances and artworks. It shows that our priorities are balanced and we have a well-rounded concept of whole child education," said Ms. Stauffer.