A Theatre Welcome from the Washington Island School District

by Mary King, Assistant Managing Director, TPAC; and Michelle Kanipes, Principal, Washington Island School District

The fine arts are alive and well on Washington Island. The Trueblood Performing Arts Center (TPAC) shares its stage with the Washington Island Players theatre group and the Washington Island Schools. This year the school’s principal, Michelle Kanipes, wrote the following letter for the 2019 season program. We believe it demonstrates the importance of theatre.

“Theatre is unique because it borrows its content from other disciplines and then applies it to an expressive, aesthetic form of communication. The pure content of theatre is what is taught in English language arts, science, social studies and mathematics. What is unique to theatre education is its active form. Theatre endeavors to teach broader learning concepts such as the skills of critical thinking, problem-solving, working with others, communication skills and decision making. These concepts are integral to every element of theatre and carry over into all other curricular areas as well. According to (Feb. 2019), recent studies have shown that students who participate in the arts, especially theatre, do better academically and are more successful in their career endeavors than those who do not.

The Washington Island School Choir sings at the Veterans Day observation hosted by American Legion Gislason-Richter Post 402 on November 12, 2018. Photo by Mary King.

“The state standards for theatre are a part of a ‘comprehensive public-school education in Wisconsin. The overall focus of theatre is to build students’ skills and knowledge through experiential theatrical activities. There are four processes supporting student development involving the artistic areas of theatre education: creating, performing, responding and connecting. [Each] of these processes provides students with foundational opportunities to investigate the arts through an inquiry-based lens, as well as providing foundational skills and knowledge to make them career- and college-ready’ (Wisconsin DPI, 2018).

“With that being said, we are most humbled and grateful to have such a facility on the island, available to Washington Island School District students and staff. We are indebted to the Trueblood Performing Arts Center for the rich and varied theatre opportunities that they provide for the school and community of Washington Island. The students and staff have been provided the latitude to collaborate with the TPAC in a myriad of ways. Each occasion – be it directly on stage, behind the scenes or involved in tech and lighting – allows for students to learn, explore and expand their experiences in the world of theatre.

“Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, Trueblood Performing Arts Center staff, volunteers and board of directors. With your generosity, insight and cooperation, our students are provided a theatre prospect like no other! We applaud your vision and your investment in children and the performing arts. Bravo!”

Washington Island School students perform in We Are Monsters May 10-11, 2019. Photo by Mary King.

We were fortunate to host the Washington Island School play, We Are Monsters, on May 10 and 11. This production involved students ages four through 13, with the light and sound boards being run by some of our high school students. We greatly appreciated this opportunity to work with the school on this fun-filled production. It was such a delightful experience to watch these students learn and grow as individuals as they worked hard putting this production together under their directors: Michelle Kanipes, Donna Russell, Marlene Johnson and Kayla Mann. This production raised approximately $1,000 from free-will donations. We look forward to the next production!

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