Superintendent Dr. Carole G. Hankin recently announced that the Syosset school district won its third award this year for having the number one programming in the arts. The latest award, naming Syosset the winner of the 2002 School Board Award, is given by the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network and National School Boards Association to the best school district in arts education, which includes visual arts, music, drama, and dance.
Syosset was first awarded the New York State Award from the New York State Alliance for Arts Education and then went on to be judged for the national award alongside nominees from all other states in the country. The plaque presented to school board president Janet Cox reads: "2002 Award for Excellence to the Board of Education, Syosset Central School District, for its outstanding support and commitment to high quality arts education throughout its school district, community, and state."
The Syosset school district was also the recipient of the Magna Award, given by the National School Boards Association. The Magna Award is given to school districts for outstanding programs of all kinds, and Syosset won the award for its arts education programming. Board Vice President Dr. Marc Herman accepted the award on behalf of the district.
"This has been an incredible year of recognition for our district," said Hankin. "We are very fortunate that arts education programs have the support of the board of education, the administration, the parents, and many talented and enthusiastic students. It is wonderful to see how our students benefit from our professional partnerships and our school-based programs."
Syosset students currently are involved in the following partnerships with New York City museums and cultural institutions:
* Residency Program with the International Vocal Arts Association/Metropolitan Opera - 4 Years -- professional opera singers hold master classes and individual coaching sessions with Syosset High School students. They also will help students prepare for vocal competitions, such as NYSSMA. Each year, they produce an hour-long, original production in which students perform on stage alongside the professionals. In addition, orchestra members of the Metropolitan and New York City Opera will also conduct master classes for our students. Last year we had a first violinist and a trumpet player lead classes.
* Residency Program with Columbia University Teachers College, Spirit Group - 2 Years -- Columbia University Professor works with Syosset High School music students once a week to teach them the art of musical improvisation. He works with both vocal and instrumental musicians. Last spring, students had the incredible opportunity of performing in concerts with jazz legend Dave Brubeck and with conductor Alexander Bernstein.
* Residency Program with New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players - 5 Years -- The director and company members hold workshops with every fifth- and sixth-grade class in the district. They teach them to appreciate and understand the light operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan. A group of 40 sixth graders from each middle school are selected to perform with the full company in a full-scale production of the HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, or The Mikado. The students train and rehearse for several months before the production.
* Partnership Program with the Metropolitan Museum of Art - 2 Years - This program, which includes all eighth-grade students, involves both staff development and student visits to the museum. Teachers from every different subject matter are involved, and students learn how art relates to such disciplines as history, science, math, technology, and literature.
* Partnerships Program with the Museum of Modern Art - This also involves teacher training and student seminars. Middle and high school students will study artworks from MoMA and learn about the different styles of modern art.
Another reason that Syosset won the award is the committee's recognition that the arts are treated as core curriculum courses in Syosset schools. All middle and high school performing ensembles meet during the school day with specialist instructors. In the elementary schools, the district's unique world language program, in which the students all study Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Latin in grades K-5 includes music, songs, culture, dance, and art of the people who speak these languages. The arts are therefore an integral component of these language lessons.
A newer aspect of the arts that is fully integrated into most core curriculum subjects is computer art, video, and digital photography. Students learn how to enhance presentations of every subject with the use of the latest computer programs, video, and digital photography. Power Point presentations enable even students who have difficulty drawing to use their artistic sensibility and create colorful, attractive reports on every subject. Student work created on the computer can be printed on large-format printers that produce colorful, artistic posters that help students express their ideas and share their knowledge. More than 700 students participate in high school visual art programs.
The Theater Arts program is under the auspices of the English Department and many of its courses fulfill English requirements, as do other courses which count as credit for music, art, and physical education.
Syosset students have many opportunities to perform music in the schools. The music performance ensemble opportunities in the district include the following: Syosset High School has five bands, three orchestras, five choirs, two instrumental jazz bands, one vocal jazz ensemble, and a marching band. More than 700 students participate in high school music programs. Elementary schools and middle schools all have full string orchestra, band, and choral programs.
"The Syosset School community, the board of education, administration, teachers, parents, students, and residents understand the programs in art, music, theater, and dance contribute immeasurably to a student's academic and personal growth and provide them with positive, productive ways to channel their energy and express their creativity," said Hankin. "There have been many studies that show that learning the arts increases a child's thinking and learning abilities. We believe that our arts education is a contributing factor to the high academic successes our students consistently achieve."