Vote set on proposed curriculum for new class at Danville High School

Vote set on proposed curriculum for new class at Danville High School

DANVILLE — Starting this school year, some Danville High School students will be introduced to the school's Academy of Creative Expression program and its Artful Learning curriculum through a new class.

The semester-long class, called Principles of the Arts, is a required course for sophomores entering ACE House.

Danville school board members have been reviewing a proposed curriculum for the class and will vote on whether to approve it on Wednesday. The board will meet at 5:30 p.m Wednesday at the Jackson Building, 516 N. Jackson St., Danville. A copy of the agenda is available online at

"I think it will be a great way to introduce students to Artful Learning and the artistic process," said Assistant Principal Phil Cox, the ACE House director. About 70 students will take the class in the fall semester, and another 70 will take it in the spring.

"It's also going to build their skills and confidence in those skills that they need in order to be successful in all of their Artful Learning courses," he continued.

Artful Learning is an educational reform model developed by the Leonard Bernstein Center that infuses arts and creativity into math, English, science and other core subjects in an effort to stimulate and deepen students' academic learning experience.

The curriculum is organized into major units of study, in which students are exposed to a master work of art — such as a painting, symphony, architecturally significant building or historically significant document — that captures their interest and becomes the basis for their own projects. Students move into an inquiry phase requiring research and critical thinking, a creation phase where they turn ideas into an original creation and a reflection phase, in which they're assessed and they reflect on what they've learned.

Since introducing Artful Learning two years ago, ACE House staff realized it would be more beneficial to expose incoming students to basic principles of art, music and drama and arts-based skills and strategies.

"We've found that teachers don't have the time within their classes to fully teach those skills and strategies," Cox said, adding teachers with expertise in art, music and drama will teach the new class, while core teachers "can focus on the content and use those strategies to reinforce learning."

Cox said the class' masterwork is "West Side Story." In the first week, students will experience the musical and significant question that will guide their inquiry — how do the arts and creative process affect and influence our lives? — through a variety of activities.

Then, students will do three, five-week rotations with art teacher John Rackow, music teacher Kent Krause and drama teacher Lisa Richter. During that time, they will learn the language or the arts such as perspective, scale and texture in art; composition, expression and timbre in music; and character, improvisation, blocking in drama. They also will learn about the role of art in past and present civilizations, and create and perform to understand how works of art are produced.

In the last two weeks, students will work in groups to create a multimedia production that will answer the significant question. They also will write a reflective piece about their production and those of their classmates.

Also at the meeting, board members will vote on whether to pay the city of Danville $20,000 for the deed to lots at 805, 807 and 811 N. Hazel St., on the west side of the high school's campus.

The city bought those lots for $30,000, Superintendent Mark Denman said. He said the amount the district would pay represents half of that price plus $5,000 toward the cost to demolish two houses on the lots.

The city has agreed to raze the houses and clean up the site, Denman said. He said acquiring the lots would allow for a possible parking lot expansion in the future.

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gottachimein wrote on August 28, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Nice of you to remove my earlier comment and change one of your errors "Principals" to Principles and give no credit nor realize that you made the same error again later in the text... Way to Go N-G!

Noelle McGee wrote on August 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Good eye, gottachimein! Thank you for catching my spelling errors. I'm not sure who removed your original comment, but I'm glad you left another one. My editor saw it and corrected the mistakes.