I’m not entirely sure where to begin.
I’m simply amazed to be at the end of the school calendar year and be standing firmly on solid ground and be able to reflect. This was a year unlike any other in my teaching career. As the Department Head of the Visual and Performing Arts during a Pandemic, I can honestly say that many difficult and magical things happened in 2020-2021.
Inspiration came in many forms this year. It came first as a collective, creating a mission statement that we felt best represented our department:
To cultivate and inspire a community of passionate young artists who will go forth and learn to express themselves upon the world’s various stages and canvases with self-assurance, confidence, and resilience. Through emotional expression, students will be able to collaborate in a safe, creative, and inclusive environment, where being one’s true self is celebrated each and every day.
It also came through amazing cross-curricular fine art being done with both French Immersion classes and Social Studies classes. It came through a walking trip to Brentwood Town Centre to see, discuss and draw the Douglas Coupland “Charm Bracelet” sculpture. It came through a “You Can’t Touch This” parody of protocol back-to-school rules and multiple dance montages, genres and numbers worthy of TIKTOKing worldwide. It came through a Senior Band piece from the Netherlands, capturing the unique journey of bicycling, with the ringing of a bicycle bell throughout the exuberant music. It came through stunning AP ceramic work that had students gasping in awe as they passed the hallway display cases. It came through neighbourhood photography, as students walked socially-distanced around our school, and it came through an outstanding yearbook filled with smiling portraits and masked photos that still captured the joys in our year. It was a new adventure. It was masked performance, video recordings, streamed assemblies, divided classes, virtual meetings, online hybrid learning, and virtual seasonal posts on the website. It was teachers relearning and trying to make the arts as accessible as possible for our students. It was invigorating and it was exhausting, but it was a win. Our kids still loved creating in this new normal.
This year, we taught through a pandemic. We made relationships. We celebrated and we cried. We lost numbers and blocks, but made cohorts work. We sold the arts through masks, and still provided an outlet for our students. This year, we won. And I am so very proud to be part of this amazing winning team.
May you all enjoy the rest, sunshine and relaxation that summer brings. Be safe and be well!
See you in September!
Mrs. Cristina McAllister
“School’s out for summer!”