GCAA’s New Vice Principal: Ted Frigillana

[This article is by GCAA seventh grader, Magnolia Mulvihill, a member of the Website Reporting Club.] Next year Mr. Ted Frigillana, the current 7th grade Social Studies teacher at GCAA, will become the vice principal of middle school. "Mr. Frig," as he is more commonly known by the kids, is very excited about this opportunity. "I am a life learner and enjoy new and Frig 1exciting challenges." As the vice principal, Frigillana says he will be "supporting the middle school teachers in many facets, dealing with student issues as they arise, and most importantly making sure that every student feels safe and is achieving their full potential, in both their academics and arts." Although Mr. Frig has been teaching for seven years, he is not new to being in an administrative role. He was a Dean of Students at an independent school for two and a half years. "In that role I was an advocate for all students and was lucky enough to still be able to teach Social Studies classes as well as sponsor the student council." Most students who are, or who have been in, Mr. Frig's class are sad because they won't see him as much. Mr. Frig says, though, that he will ''be as visible and present with the students as he can.'' Mr. Frig will still play his viola with the orchestra, and also bring out his guitar whenever requested. Mr. Frig really believes in student safety and that all kids should enjoy school. One of Mr. Frig's goals is to "know every middle school kid's name by the end of the first full week of school." For him the students are really important, and he wants them Frig 2to do their very best. This reporter is confident that Mr. Frig is going to be an amazing vice principal!

Under the Sea

[This article was written by GCAA 9th grader Joerdan Carney, a member of the GCAA Website Reporting Club. Joerdan also took these photographs--Click on the photos for higher res versions, and see the gallery at the very bottom of this article for all of Joerdan's photos]. Have you seen the painting coming to life on the first floor of GCAA? Visual Arts teacher Ms. Clayton offered an independent art study class for the second semester, an idea she got from the parents and students of GCAA. This class provides an opportunity for selected students to create a art project as a group. They collaborate on a large-scale project, developing their artistic abilities as they work. The first-floor hallway mural is the first of (hopefully) many to come. The Art Department plans to regularly offer the independent art study class so that students create a large-scale project each year. These projects will “slowly transform the school walls into a strong representation of who we are as a school!” Mrs. Clayton exclaimed. Many students from all grades will have a chance to contribute and “enhance the aesthetics of the school interior.” The current project is a mural just off of the first floor lobby space, a painting that depicts an underwater scene. Before paint was applied, the students sketched this project on paper and it was approved by Mrs. Glickert and Mrs. Hoffman. The students then transferred their drawing onto the wall and began to paint. The silver temple on the south wall depicts a student’s vision of Atlantis, with symbols representing the arts "carved" into the steps. Near the doorway leading to the cafeterias, a school of fish swims; each one is unique; many of them carry objects like a paint brush or sheet music. A mermaid lingers by each doorway and a blue whale peers down from above. Jellyfish float about among an abundance of other sea life, like the eel winding it’s way around a cluster of coral and the purple octopus emerging from a sunken piano. Once the mural is complete, observers will have the experience of standing underwater enjoying the sea life teeming all around.

Angie Brooks visits GCAA

[This article was written, and these photographs were taken, by 9th Grader JuJu Vieth, a member of the GCAA Website Reporting Club]. Get ready, get set, dance! On Monday, March 11, the 7th grade student body was graced with the presence of Ms. Angie Brooks, a professional dancer. How long has she been dancing? “A really long time!” Ms. Brooks says. “By age 10, I had made up my mind that I wanted to be a professional dancer and dance for a living.”

Angie Brooks teaches the GCAA 7th Grade

Ms. Brooks started her dancing career with the St. Louis Muny, in a touring production of “Singin’ in the Rain.” A few years later, she moved to Chicago where she was a member of a jazz/modern dance company, Cerqua/Rivera Art Experience. After that, “my love for Musical Theatre beckoned me to make the big scary move to NYC.” Ms. Brooks then moved back to St. Louis to teach ballroom dancing to students ages 4-90. She is currently the Program Manager of the St. Louis Dancing Classrooms. How does Ms. Brooks feel about dance? “Dance makes me feel alive, makes me feel centered, gives order to the chaos in my mind, heart, and being.” On Monday, she taught the 7th graders the “mambo,” a Latin dance that originated in Cuba during the 1930s.

The Biggest Classroom in St. Louis

[This article is by 7th grader Magnolia Mulvihill, a member of the Website Reporting Club].

Dan Rubright

"Our classroom is the whole Grand Center district," Mr. Rubright explains. He's referring to the amazing partnerships we have with neighboring organizations. These include the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Craft Alliance, the Pulitzer, Dance St. Louis, the Sheldon, the Black Rep and many more arts venues. Mr. Rubright's job at GCAA is to find out which organizations have educational programs. "These partners have a need to reach out to students. It's part of their mission." Part of reaching out to students is sometimes giving them free tickets to shows and doing workshops, which is exactly what our partners do. Recently Dance St. Louis has given GCAA students free tickets to see Carmina Burana at the Touhill. It was an incredible performance featuring instrumental and vocal music with dance. I thought it was a really creative performance, and I not only got one free ticket, but one for my mom too. GCAA has also been given free tickets to see War Horse at the Fox. Students in theater class have a workshop on Thursday during the day with some of the puppeteers from the show. These are just some of the wonderful experiences GCAA students get to participate in. This is one of the reasons Mr. Rubright loves his job so much. He enjoys "creating unique learning opportunities for all of our students." Mr. Rubright also loves seeing ideas come to life, and says improvisation and composition are a big part of his job. Thanks to our great partners in the arts and Mr. Rubright we are able to grow and learn in places that "extend beyond just our building." Our classroom really is the whole Grand Center district, making it the biggest classroom in St. Louis.

GCAA website reporters visit with accomplished photojournalist

[The following article was written by Abi Gray of the Website Reporting Club. Abi also took both photographs]. The GCCAA websites reporters club met after school on Friday the 8th. We were very lucky to meet and speak with Karen Elshout, a professional photojournalist who previously worked for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who now works for Missouri Lawyers Weekly. Karen shared some of her experiences and gave us a few pointers in photojournalism. One reason that Karen loves photo journalism is that she finds “the human condition pretty interesting”, and likes to report on and photograph stories regarding regular people. She first became interested in photography in high school and continued to study it in college. While in college, Karen worked for a company that allowed her find stories that were not assigned to her to cover, and ever since she particularly enjoys finding those opportunities. As she said to us “there is a story in every photograph”. She told us that photojournalism is a very collaborative effort, for example you might need to work with someone to write the story that you were photographing, and you have to be open to other people’s ideas. “There is some satisfaction in finding your own stories and having editors that want to embrace them.”  She also shared that “you need the reporter to understand what it is you see in the story.” The biggest takeaway I had from Karen’s presentation was that being collaborative is a part of photojournalism by nature. From my prospective, photojournalism seems like a really neat combination of literature and photography.

Black History Month Art at GCAA

[The following article was written by GCAA 6th Grader Elise Palmer, a member of the GCAA Website Reporting Club; photos were by JuJu Vieth--click on the photo images for higher-res versions]. ] GCAA was able to host an art display regarding Missouri's African-American history as part of Black History Month. The signage came to us from Grand Center Incorporated where it had been used as part of First Night/Freedom's Eve. The signs tell us amazing things that happened in Missouri, accomplishments by African Americans. Here were a few I found really interesting and thought all my artistic friends at GCAA might too. 1834 - William Wells Brown escaped slavery in St. Louis and later became an abolitionist and America's first African American novelist. Now I need to find out the name of his novel and read it. Scott Joplin the "King of Ragtime" lived in Sedalia Missouri, where he published the Maple Leaf Rag in 1899 and he later lived in St. Louis and performed at the 1904 World's Fair. I've heard Scott Joplin's music before, have you? I know there are some students working in the GCAA orchestra room on some great jazz. How about another name that you might know: a famous African-American women Josephine Baker, an international dancer and singer was born in 1906 in the St. Louis Mill creek bottom area. Of course she is so famous there is even a street named after her not too far from school. But honestly, I haven't heard her music before, there is something else to check out at the library. In 1963 DeVerne Calloway was elected the first African-American woman Representative to the Missouri legislature. Unfortunately she died in 1993 and didn't get to see that we would one day have an African-American President of the United States. Here is an exciting advancement in science: In 1992, Dr. Manny Johns was the first African-American woman to travel into outer space. How cool is that? I learned some important things from the signs in our building and now I need to go and research more.

7th Grade Poetry Slam

Cynthia Crawford

The 7th Grade found another way artists can express themselves last Friday by having a poetry slam. This all started with a poetry unit in Mrs. Yost’s 7th grade communication arts classroom. After hearing many creative and passionate poems in class, Mrs. Yost decided to have a grade-wide poetry slam. But Mrs. Yost didn't stop there, with the help from school librarian, Ms. Johnson, the 7th graders were also able to hear poems from St. Louis poet, Cynthia Crawford. She entertained the 7th graders with poems she has written throughout her career. After the 7th Graders were able to see how a professional presents poems, they got to share some of their poems. Ms Crawford and the GCAA parents who attended indicated that the 7th graders really represented our school well. Many of those who attended expressed how creative and imaginative our students really are. [This article and the following photos by GCAA 9th Grader Joel Breeden of the Website Reporting Club].  

Curtains come up on January 25 for Sideways Stories

Lights, camera, action! Get ready for a hilarious stage version of Louis Sachar’s book Sideways Stores from Wayside School directed by Mr. Eric Conners and Ms. Emily Kohring. Auditions were held on November 14th and 15th, leaving Mr. Conners and Ms. Kohring with almost 20 actors to work with. There will be three performances, all taking place at Grand Center Arts Academy, in the Theater Studio on the 6th floor. Performance dates are as follows: Friday, January 25th at 7:00 pm., Saturday, January 26th at 4:00 pm, and Saturday, January 26th at 7:00 pm. Tickets cost $5 and will be available for purchase upon entry. Seating is limited, get there early! Almost every weekday after school since January 26th, the 17 dedicated actors in the cast gathered in the theater room from 4:00-5:30. The actors practiced, practiced, and are still practicing their roles to be ready for opening night. On Sunday, January 13th, many parents of the actors came to GCAA to help build the set. During that four-hour work session, they were able to install a working door and window, which has been hugely appreciated by everyone in the cast. And thanks to Ms. Megan Clayton’s Artsanity Club, we were able to get our wonderful set painted. Click on any of the thumbnail below to see a much larger high resolution image. See you at the play! [Note: Ninth grader JuJu Vieth, a member of the Website Reporting Club, wrote this article and took these photographs. JuJu also works as Stage Manager in the upcoming production of Sideways Stores from Wayside School.

Getting to Know Mrs. York

[By Joerdan Carney, Abi Gray, and Magnolia Mulvihill of the GCAA Website Reporting Club]. This past Friday evening, three student reporters interviewed Carol York, GCAA's sixth grade science teacher. She's been a science teacher at GCAA for three years, ''I was here at the very beginning.''

Ms. Carol York

For the first year she taught the sixth graders Life Science, now she teaches them Earth Science, which is exciting for her because she has always had an interest in geology. ''We just finished a unit on geologic time, and we'll be starting a unit on aquatic ecosystems.'' Mrs. York believes in hands-on learning. She plans to have the kids grow plants, do water testing, and go fishing! Mrs. York enjoys teaching at GCAA because ''a lot of people can think outside the box.'' She likes how students creatively present their learning. Even though Mrs. York doesn't have an artistic background, her children do. She has a daughter who's an art major in college, and another that is a dancer. Mrs. York is a phenomenal teacher!

Sun Theater Renovation is Underway

By 9th Grader Joel Breeden, member of the Website Reporting Club The Sun Theater, located directly behind the main school building of GCAA, is in the process of becoming GCAA’s own theater for musicals, plays, and concerts featuring GCAA’s orchestra, band, choir, and dance performers. The 30,000 square foot theater will also include three classrooms and a backstage workshop. Along with the other members of the GCAA Website Reporting Club, I recently had the opportunity to interview Ms. Katherine Palmer, GCAA’s Community Development Coordinator, on the topic of the Sun Theater. In 1913, the Sun Theater was established as a 1,800 seat theater known as “The Victoria” or “The German Theater,” and it originally cost $120,000 to build. The first floor of the theater was used for German plays and Operas. The second floor was used as a lecture hall. Because of anti-German sentiment caused by World War I, however, the theater was shut down. After the war, the theater reopened as “The Liberty.” Over the years the theater has been used as a movie theater, vaudeville show, burlesque hall, a night club and apparently even a church. The shows staged in the theater changed throughout the theater’s life right along with the names of the theater; it has been called “The World,” “400 Club,” The Lyn,” and it is currently it is called “The Sun.” In 1981, the theater’s doors closed and they have not reopened since. Even with Grand Center, Inc. buying the land in the early 1990s, the only sign of life has been the big neon sign out front. The theater has been in a great need of a renovation. "The whole place on the inside looks like a bomb went off," according to Ms. Palmer. The photos included with this article demonstrate the extent of renovation work needed. These photos were taken about one month ago by GCAA Website Reporter JuJu Vieth. Ms. Palmer told the Website Reporters a story she heard during a recent tour through the vacant theater: "A man went in there back in the early 1990s and he said that in the middle of the stage, there was just a huge mound of stuff and he had no idea why this mound was in the middle of the stage. Come to find out, it was pigeon poop!" On January 8th, 2013, The Lawrence Group (led by CEO Steve Smith) bought the property, and the renovation of the Sun started on January 9th. The whole process will take between one year and 18 months to complete. This puts the theater’s completion prior to the summer of 2014. The Lawrence Group will serve as the architects for the renovation as well as the general manager and designers. After the renovation, Grand Center Arts Academy will be signing a lease to use the Sun Theater with Landmark Group. In addition to using the Sun for its own performances, GCAA will also rent out its space at the Sun Theater to other schools and civic groups. After the 11.5 million dollar renovation, our two-block area will become more of a school campus. Given that the Sun will include three second-floor classrooms, GCAA students will be using the Sun on a daily basis. There will be a new elevator attached to the building for easier access to the second floor. The Sun will also contain a workshop where GCAA students will learn to build theater sets. Another great opportunity this theater will give our kids will be summer classes. Mrs. Palmer described another possibility: "Imagine if we had a summer class and you studied [Alfred] Hitchcock, and how he made movies and then you tried to recreate a Hitchcock movie and we had this great big screen come down onto the stage. Can you imagine if your video could be shown?" Grand Center Arts Academy was first a dream for teenagers in the St. Louis area to express themselves in the arts. This dream has become more and more a reality. This dream first started in Third Baptist Church, our first home to our students. One year later, the dream picked up and moved one block up to its new and permanent home on North Grand Boulevard. Now, we look forward to the completion of our newest expansion, the Sun Theater. [This article was written by GCAA 9th Grader Joel Breeden, a member of the GCAA Website Reporting Club]. [slideshowgallery]