Archive for June 1, 2012

ESL Grammar/Composition Class Tries a New Approach

In an innovative approach, ESL faculty member, Nick P. Cooper ,engaged his Advanced ESL Grammar/Composition class. Nick received the course outline and realized that he wanted to take the course in a new direction. The students had some proficiency in speaking and writing English and some had even been in Nick’s classes the year before. Nick said, “I don’t believe that you learn a new language from a book. It doesn’t work that way. It needs to be relevant to a teenager. I wanted them to have to speak. When I was in high school, I loved speech and debate. I discovered that there was an ESL International Toastmasters series of speeches and I thought the students would benefit from completing the program.”  That was the inspiration for Nick to inspire his students.

As part of the Toastmasters series, each week, Nick showed jis students the next step in becoming proficient orators,  giving them a new speech topic and a new set of guidelines from which to build on. The students learned to research a topic, prepare an outline, and went through a three-step revision process, including peer-revision before they had a final academic essay. Then began the process of delivering the information to an audience of their peers in an engaging way.

Nick worked with the students to develop critical thinking and they learned to defend their statements. He worked hard in developing their writing talents. Each class started with writing for 600 seconds. Nick said, “600 seconds is much more fun than saying you have to write for the first ten minutes of class and, under this guise, students wrote without being overwhelmed.”  He created a “Journal Jar” where the first student in the classroom each day could draw one of 500 writing prompts and write it on the board. The class then followed the “five critical thinking prompts” Nick taught them to write their essays each day. “It became a game for the students to see who could arrive earliest to put the prompt on the board and this tool truly engaged the students”, said Nick. With this writing in hand, students learned to speak with greater ease and approach the argument in a more dynamic way. Students actively responded to each discussion and began to argue and debate naturally.

Below is clip of their recent debate final:

Nick recognized their natural interests and asked the class whether they wanted to learn to debate formally. He showed them the formal process of how a debate works and they started from there. Eventually, the class had their own debate tournament with students using note cards full of their own research to support their arguments. “It was exhilarating to see these international students research, write, and then use logic to argue in a language that was not their own.”

Leo Rodriguez, a freshman theatre major from Mexico, said “I learned so much from this class and it really has helped me out as an actor. Nick’s class gave us confidence. As an International student I was nervous and worried about not being accepted or succeeding – in both my art and academics. It was really cool because it wasn’t a normal class. All of the projects were different. It was more fun and we were interested in learning for ourselves. It wasn’t the teacher standing in front of the board. We had responsibility to engage with the class.”

Nick said,  “they’ve made huge and exciting improvements as English speakers. They built self-confidence and all completed the class and the International Toastmasters series quite successfully. I wanted to provide a platform for them to find their voice and share their thoughts, teaching them that everything they had to say had value. These students all wanted to learn and I’m happy to have created a class where that was possible.”

June 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm 1 comment

Creative Writing Major Interns at The Town Crier

by Isaac Dwyer ’13

Over the past semester, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a journalism internship at the local newspaper here in Idyllwild, the Idyllwild Town Crier. When I first was offered the position, I was a bit hesitant, but took it anyway – and I am not even slightly regretful for doing that. Twice a week, I would go into the newspaper’s office and be handed a stack of things to do, whether it be interviewing town residents, digging through the Town Crier’s archives for old news articles, or designing info-graphic layouts. Throughout the semester, I worked on a narrative article about Idyllwild Arts’ recent efforts in sustainability and environmentalism, wherein I conducted a series of interviews with the schools historian and a myriad of teachers and administrators. The article was later published in the Town Crier.

The experience was fantastic, filled with enjoyable adventures (as well as misadventures), and supportive and good-natured mentors that were always there when I needed them.

June 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm Leave a comment

An Interview with Maddie Marlow-2012 MacNeal Award Winner

by Lissa Claussen

A typical year in Maddie Marlow’s young life meant moving to another town. She found herself in the public schools of Ashland, Oregon her freshman year. It was her unhappiness there that compelled her to seek change. She was depressed, her personal life had its challenges and she hated school for its lack of art instruction.  She found Idyllwild Arts on the Internet; it appeared to be the perfect fit. The first year she applied there was not enough financial aid. She persevered and the second year all was in place. Maddie came to Idyllwild Arts Academy and her life took a 180 degree turn.

Idyllwild Arts became her home.  To Maddie, “home” implies where you breathe and exist. Idyllwild Arts is her family and community.

Maddie started in the Creative Writing department and has a love for physics; however, her true passion is dancing. She knew that if she got the opportunity to be in the dance department she would have to work.  Work hard she did. Maddie became so successful she landed the title role in the ballet Cinderella. She was president of the senior class, president of the National Honors Society, writing tutor, Admission’s tour guide, and prefect in Husch Dormitory. In addition to her dance performances on campus, she was one of three students who performed 13 shows of Nutcracker with the Claremont Pacific Inland Ballet. This year, Maddie graduates from Idyllwild Arts and will be honored with the MacNeal Award. This coveted award is presented to a graduating senior who exemplifies artistic excellence, academic prowess, personal maturity and responsibility. She proved to herself that with passion and the right work ethic she could reach her goals and excel beyond.

Maddie plans to spend a gap year in Los Angeles and will teach dance to young students. The following year she plans to attend college on the east coast.  She will pursue business, economics and non-profit management.  This summer she will be in Denver for ballet training.

Several of her friends and teachers have commented on the huge contribution she has made to Idyllwild Arts. IAA President, Brian Cohen, said this about Maddie: “As a student leader at Idyllwild Arts, Maddie is without peer. Her leadership, involvement, and dedication are evident in her contributions as President of the IAA chapter of National Honor Society, her leadership of a student trip to Oxnard (California) for Habitat for Humanity that she initiated and planned, her organizing a Roatan (Honduras) school fundraising project, her work as a writing tutor, and her role as a dormitory prefect.  In every endeavor Maddie is unfailingly mature, dependable, organized, kindhearted, and enthusiastic”.

She doesn’t feel that way at all; instead, she feels she has not done enough. She is driven to find any way possible to give back. She leaves with the desire to go out into the world and share her passion with others.

June 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm 1 comment

Tiffany Christensen – Valedictorian for the IAA Class of 2012

Tiffany Christensen, a senior Music major cellist from Temecula, California, is Valedictorian for the Idyllwild Arts Academy Class of 2012. Tiffany remarked that she was “actually very surprised” that she was named Valedictorian.  “I took Honors classes because I felt that they would be more interesting and challenging.”

Coming to Idyllwild Arts Academy was an opportunity for her to combine her music and schooling. As for most families they spend their life taking their student from school to lessons or arts classes. Idyllwild Arts families benefit from having one place where their student can do both, academics and arts. Tiffany said that she “was able to focus on these two aspects of my life in a way that I was unable to at public school. I was able to put a focus on what I felt was most important–that was definitely one of the things i loved best about being here.

Time management is always a concern for students and a skill that many Idyllwild Arts alumni state was one of their biggest lessons. Before coming to Idyllwild Tiffany asked a former student how they had managed to get everything done. They told her they “prioritized it, putting their music first, school second.” Tiffany didn’t want to have to make a ‘choice’ between them, and so she organized herself based on time – doing academic work in the dorm, but practicing the cello during the day, “whether it was in between classes, or before curfew”.

Ryan Zwahlen, Music Department Chair, commented that “Tiffany has been a strong and dedicated musician and leader at Idyllwild Arts. Not only has she performed on numerous chamber and orchestral concerts at IAA, but also concerts around town and at the Idyllwild School.”

Tiffany’s plans for college are still undetermined. She’s still waiting to hear on a “few details” but UC Berkeley or NYU are two possibilities.

June 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

Gary Gray on Retirement and Teaching Math

Gary Gray, math faculty at Idyllwild Arts Academy since 1993, is retiring from full-time teaching at the end of this year. Gary has been connected to Idyllwild Arts since the 1970s through his friendship with past president and founding head Bill Lowman. In the 1980s, Gary attended Summer Program workshops and taught a Wilderness Photography course in 1987.

Gary at the whiteboard

Gary’s professional teaching career began at the age of 40. While a college student he had taken many math and science classes so he was prepared when he went back to school and took graduate classes in math & education. Prior to coming to Idyllwild Arts he taught  at Coachella Valley High School for four years and one year in the Palm Springs Unified School District. With five years under his belt Gary came to Idyllwild Arts and joined the Math/Science Department.

Gary’s focus and core reason to become a teacher was the opportunity to teach students critical thinking. “I wanted them learn to make their own decisions and how to go through the process.” As an avid horseman, Gary shared an analogy to how he approaches teaching. “In horsemanship, I’ve learned about thinking like a horse. When you’re working with a horse if they can’t understand what you want from them how can they possibly do it? The same thing relates to a student. It they don’t understand a problem or process they can’t possibly do the work. I’m always pushing the students to understand for themselves. I’ve always tried to look at what is the student’s point of view.”

Gary working with students in the classroom

Gary said that there’s never been a single student that came here to take a “Gary Gray math class”. He views education as a collaboration between the student and teacher. He said “I’m still managing them but I’m working with them. I want them to succeed and experience success but maintain the rigor and integrity of the curriculum.”

This year, Gary has been honored by the 2012 Senior Class and asked to speak on the topic of “Art and Technology” at their Baccalaureate Ceremony. Gary said that for his speech he plans to turn the podium and address the students directly; not make it towards the audience, which is usually the tradition, but to speak directly to those students that have sat in his classroom.

Gary will continue to teach one class next year at Idyllwild Arts and also mentor the new faculty and Math & Science chairs. He wants to be part of the transition that helps to sustain a vibrant program that he developed with the late Jerry McCampbell. “I’ll be in the classroom doing what I love and using my skills to the betterment of the students.”

Gary has many other projects in the works. He’ll be teaching a “Tracking and Nature Observation” at the Nature Center in Idyllwild and possibly at the Living Desert in the fall. He also plans on collaborating on his third book project.

In all, Gary states “the experience of working with the great students and faculty is the highlight of my career at Idyllwild Arts. It’s all about the community at Idyllwild Arts that makes it so special.”

June 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm Leave a comment

Five Seniors Comment on Their IAA Experience

In our final CenterStage of the year, three Idyllwild Arts music majors – Bohan Lin, Jasmine Wang and Lake Jiroudek, and two Dance majors – Adrianna Audoma & Cheyenne Carllson, share their thoughts about their Idyllwild Arts experience.

1: Tell me about your experience at IAA? How has it affected you as an artist, dancer, performer or musician?

Bohan: When I came to Idyllwild for the first time, I thought it was a quiet place to practice and study. There are not too many distractions here and it was easier for my musical studies and academic classes. Also, I could discuss many interesting topics with students about the arts. I gained a lot of knowledge about art. My musical skills improved.

Jasmine: When I first got here, I thought my high school life would start to be boring. After a while, compared to the bustling city I came from, the natural environment here has made me start to like it and love it. I made many nice friends, met many great teachers, and learned many interesting things from the nature and people here. Time flies, and I have changed a lot through these three years. Idyllwild made me become a calmer and more mature young woman, and those qualities made me become more thoughtful and less fickle in piano performance.

Lake: I have made many new contacts and friends at Idyllwild. It has been a major reason for my early success in jazz. The festivals our jazz combo has participated in, have revealed me to a larger audience.

Adrianna: Idyllwild Arts has made me more confident. I get inspired by other people’s artwork and living in a community with other artists. It’s changed and influenced my choreography & how I dance.

Cheyenne: Idyllwild has given me an opportunity to connect with likeminded individuals. I love being in an environment that inspires me more.

2: What’s been the most critical lesson that you’ve learned as a student? Is it something in the academics or the arts?

Bohan: The most critical lesson I learned was in my art classes. I am a music student. I have to pay high attention to my artwork and practice hard. I remember one time I hadn’t practiced and went to my lesson. My teacher noticed from my playing and talked to me how important practicing is. My teacher is a good pianist, he is very experienced. He usually points me to practicing as helping me continue to become a better musician.

Jasmine: In the beginning of my senior year, Mr. Nelms McKelvain said something very effective in Music Department Meeting. He said, there’s always someone who is better than you, and they are better because they practice more. What he said inspired me, and I will always remember it in my later life.

Lake: The most valuable lesson I got was from my guitar teacher Bruce Forman. He told me I needed to play what I hear. He articulated how important it was to express that.

Adrianna: I’ve learned tolerance. It’s such a diverse environment on this campus with various cultures and personalities. Here you learn to work with others. Also, when you’re living in a dorm you learn to appreciate the qualities of each person.

Cheyenne: I’ve learned to have more respect for myself. Give myself credit when credit is due. Everyone is striving to get better and I’ve learned to be proud of my art –  the good, bad and ugly.

3: Where have you been accepted and where are you planning to attend college/university/conservatory or art school? How did Idyllwild Arts education prepare you for the college audition/application process?

Bohan:I have been accepted by Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music and Eastman School of music. I will go to Cincinnati next year. My all teachers from Idyllwild Arts supported me a lot during my audition and application process. My piano teacher gave me a lot of musical education and knowledge. My academic teachers wrote recommendation letters and taught me a lot of English knowledge. I could not get into college without their support.

Jasmine: I have been accepted by Manhattan School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and The Eastman School of Music. I am attending The Eastman School of Music.

Lake: I was accepted to all of the schools I applied to; NEC, New School, Berklee and Juilliard. I will attend Juilliard. Idyllwild has allowed me to live my life in a fairly comfortable environment. It’s great for practicing.

Adrianna: I was accepted to UC Irvine, Trinity LaBonne and University of the Arts and I’m attending UC Irvine. Going into the auditions I felt confident. I may not have the best technique but at Idyllwild Arts, I’ve learned to be confident and do my own personal best.

Cheyenne: Accepted into all my schools artistically and UC Boulder, Fort Collins, Marymount Manhattan, and Hofstra. I’ll be attending Marymount Manhattan where I was awarded a near full scholarship.

June 1, 2012 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

IAA Students Recognized at Awards Assembly

At the annual Awards Assembly Idyllwild Arts  recognized a number of students. Below is a detailed list of the awards, this year’s recipient and a brief description of the award and its intent.

Suzi Taggart Creative Writing Scholarship Award - Isaac Dwyer  
This award honors the memory of Suzy Taggart ’98 and her creative spirit. It goes to a returning IAA Creative Writing student who has shown consistent improvement.

Casey Davidson Finch Memorial Scholarship Award – Branford Walker 
This award honors the memory of Casey Davidson Finch a teacher, poet, author and scholar whose work impacted the lives of his students and readers. It goes to an outstanding returning IAA Creative Writing student.

Passion for the Arts Award – Gerard Minaya 
This award goes to any IAA student, regardless of grade or academic standing, who displays an unparalleled passion for the arts.

Outstanding Moving Pictures Undergraduate Award – Harald Beran 
This award goes to an outstanding returning Moving Pictures student.

Alexis Echavarria/CineStory Award – Katherine Kearns 
This award honors the memory of Alexis Echavarria ’07 and his dedication to screenwriting. It goes to an outstanding screenwriter, any major; the recipient will attend the Cinestory retreat next Fall.

Jerry McCampbell Memorial Science Award – Shared by Kimberly Pritts and Isaac Dwyer 
This award honors the memory of Jerry McCampbell, Founding Mathematics and Science Department Chairman. It goes to a returning Junior IAA student who displays a passion for science; the funds are intended for college application fees or related travel.

Alexis Echavarria Screenwriting Award – Katherine Kearns 
This award honors the memory of Alexis Echavarria ’07 and his dedication to screenwriting. It goes to an outstanding screenwriter in the Moving Pictures Department, returning to IAA.

Jerry McCampbell Math and Science Scholarship – Alexandra Gandionco 
This award honors the memory of Jerry McCampbell, Founding Mathematics and Science Department Chairman. The scholarship award recognizes a returning IAA student who demonstrates skill or interest in Math or Science. This scholarship is funded by Laura McCampbell Pfanz through The Catherine McCampbell Charitable Trust.

Caroline Victoria Coldicutt Art Award – Mikaela Gerwing 
This award honors the memory of Caroline Victoria Coldicutt, artist. It goes to any IAA student with outstanding achievement in art.

Richard Wilson Creative Music Award – Inigo Mantecon 
This scholarship award recognizes a returning IAA junior instrumental music student who shows outstanding promise in the creation of creative music. This scholarship award is funded by the Richard Wilson Estate.

Sam Karam Memorial Scholarship Award – Tyler Thornhill 
This award honors the memory of Sam Karam ’91, a gifted Jazz musician. It goes to an outstanding Jazz Music student.

June 1, 2012 at 11:02 am Leave a comment


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