#1 High School in Philadelphia (SDP 2018-2019 School Progress Report)

Piece by Piece - A Sign of Resilience

Celebration of the Arts cropped

When schools closed in March 2020 no one knew how long until they could return or what to expect. As the days turned to weeks turned to months, students realized they needed to get creative to stay connected. “The whole ensemble experience is making music together and that was instantly taken away from everyone,” said Music Department chair, Mr. Ben Blazer, “we had to find creative ways to keep students together and engaged.”

That is just what the music department did – students and teachers alike learned new skills to transition to a virtual world. Throughout the school year students in all aspects of the arts have managed to produce wonderful pieces of visual and performance art, coming together as one from the comfort and safety of their own homes. For many of the students this was their first time using a digital audio workstation and, while there was a learning curve, they all rose to the occasion. For the teachers, a lot of time was spent putting all the pieces together, but it was well worth it with many new skills learned that have enhanced the overall experience and trajectory of music and arts education. 

During the 2020-2021 school year, the drama department put on a virtual production of A Christmas Carol and musical review of student solo performances; students created an online art gallery to show their projects; and the orchestra, band, ensembles, and choir produced multiple masterfully edited videos, including the ever-popular Resilience rendition by the CHS choir written by composer Abbie Betinis, making it seems as if they were all performing as one. It all culminated in an online Spring Celebration of the Arts.

While it is still unclear what the return to school will look like in the Fall, Mr. Blazer is hopeful that students will once again be able to produce music and theatrical performances together in person. He looks forward to the time when this can happen in the new performing arts center. 

The new state of the art facility will include a full scene shop to create theatrical set pieces, a gallery to display student art, and a multi-functional space that will not only benefit the Music and Art departments but the entire school at large. “The successful completion of the Leading the Way Capital Campaign will reinvigorate the campus and allow for a space that is commensurate with the abilities of our students; it will enable the school to showcase the talents and hard work of our students,” said Mr. Blazer. “To support the arts is to support the academic mission as a whole.” 

The unforeseen circumstances that required teachers and students to adjust to a new way of learning proved the resounding need for modern technology in academic practices. An investment in Central High School will ensure future success for all students. Make a gift today to the Leading The Way Capital Campaign to help ensure a bright future for our promising student artists. Support the students of today and alumni of tomorrow.