From Pre-K through commencement, art plays an integral role for York Country Day School students

The arts are a significant part of York Country Day School’s curriculum,taught and tied together across mediums at every level of learning.

WRITTEN BY:TIM STONESIFER

Starting at a young age, York Country Day School students are exposed to a variety of disciplines: traditional fine art, music, digital media, and theatre. (Photo by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

If the show is to go on – and of course it must – we’ll need actors. We’ll need sets and lights, programs and posters. It will take artists and designers and musicians of all ages, all working side by side.

A community must come together.

At York Country Day School, the arts are an integral part of the curriculum, taught and tied together across mediums at every level of learning. From Pre-Kindergarten through Upper School, students are exposed to a wide array of subjects and encouraged to explore their individual interests.

Through school-wide theatre productions and individual digital arts projects, and from the first-grader with an iPad to the senior aspiring photographer, there runs a steady current of creativity at YCDS that helps each student to discover a key truth: art is fundamental to human expression.

“Here, students are exposed to a variety of disciplines: traditional fine art, music, digital media, and theatre at a very young age,” says Director of New Media Stacey Filippone. “This is really important to the development of the whole child because children need an outlet to experiment and grow, and the arts allow them to do this.”

Young actors and actresses find their voices from an early age at YCDS, through classes as well as the annual Lower School musical and Middle School play. (Photo by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

‘Magical teaching moments’

Step into a Pre-K classroom at York Country Day School, and you can find rapt students on tablets, exploring happily even as they improve fine motor skills. Teachers use various apps that incorporate paints and puzzles, and soon young students are creating shapes to create their own images.

By fourth grade, students are bringing stories they’ve written to life using Adobe Illustrator, iMovie and GarageBand, then sharing the completed movie with their classmates.

“Art has been incorporated every year I’ve been here since Kindergarten across all kinds of platforms,” says sophomore Miranda Sipe. “It’s always one of my favorite classes, and I look forward to it whenever I have it.”

In Middle School, arts classes run quarterly and include book-making, time-based media, game design, digital arts, and more.

Young actors and actresses also find their voices from an early age at YCDS, through classes as well as the annual Lower School musical and Middle School play.

“I’m often struck by how special it is that we have these classes here, and how lucky we are since so many schools today don’t,” says Director of Theatre Paige Hoke. “It makes for a lot of magical teaching moments.”

Miranda Sipe, 16, plans to minor in art in college and has painted everything from a chair for a silent auction to portraits of her two cats during classes at YCDS. (Photo by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

‘The things I love’

York Country Day School has an award-winning fine arts and digital media department. The school has won both silver and gold keys from the Scholastic Art and Writing competition. Students’ works have hung on display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.

Such success starts with opportunity.

In Upper School, YCDS offers classes in photography, sound design, digital arts, animation, and VidCast. In VidCast II, thanks to small class size, students each act as director and create a short film with the help of their classmates.

The fine arts flourish as well. Sixteen-year-old Miranda, who plans to minor in art in college, has painted everything from a chair for a silent auction to portraits of her two cats. She’s created kitty dishes as well in ceramics class to take home to her family.

“It’s great at York Country Day because you have access to things you wouldn’t have at home, like a kiln for example,” she says. “I get to do things in art here – make art of the things I love – that I’d otherwise never get to do.”

Through school-wide theatre productions and individual digital arts projects, there runs a steady current of creativity at YCDS that helps each student to discover a key truth: art is fundamental to human expression. (Photo by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)

‘You see them really grow’

The Country Day play was days away when Nathan Knight-Nixon heard he needed to learn a new part. The 18-year-old senior recalls like yesterday that moment years ago.

“I just remember it was really fun to challenge myself that way,” he says.

At YCDS, theatre means learning teamwork and poise. It’s building empathy through meeting new characters and creativity with each forgotten line. It’s discovering, in the end, the unparalleled satisfaction of bringing joy to others.

“You see them really grow and contribute over their years here,” Hoke says, “and it’s just amazing.”

Supportive faculty are there as young people of all ages – Lower School munchkins on stage in Oz and their Upper School acting mentors, visual artists, set designers and more – each grow and develop new confidence and skills. Every child has a vital role to play.

So, when students come together at York Country Day School every new year to create shows and timeless memories, they find, too, something even more rare and important: one community.

“I get to do things in art here – make art of the things I love – that I’d otherwise never get to do,” says YCDS sophomore Miranda Sipe. (Photo by Ken Bruggeman/Our York Media)