by Layne Martens
Pulaski Academy’s mission of inspiring students to explore, create, contribute, and achieve is fully on display in the Performing Arts department, a department that has grown dramatically over the past few years to become one of the signature programs at our school. The department consists of a choir program which is at its largest in Mrs. Dudley’s 14 year tenure at PA; a band program that has grown significantly over the past five years and houses one of the top Jazz Bands in the state; a theatre department whose awe-inspiring productions make it hard to believe the actors and crew are comprised of teenagers; and a technical theatre department offered for the first time providing students the opportunity to build and work with their hands through the Stagecraft experience.
If you haven’t already heard about the amazing things happening in Mr. Posey’s technical theatre classes, you should know that these classes are not only for students who enjoy theatre. These maker-space style classes afford students the opportunity to work with their hands, including the use of power tools, on multiple construction projects. These hard-working students are already contributing to other programs by building new risers for the choir room, the bandstand for the Fall Jazz Concert in Murphy Theatre, and the set for the fall play, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
While technical theatre is the newest offering, it’s certainly not the only exciting thing happening in the department. The PA Sounds choral group has grown to 80 voices strong (enough to sing eight-part harmonies)! Additionally, Mrs. Dudley is collaborating with Mrs. Hendry in the Lower School to establish a third and fourth grade after-school choir who will sing at the concerts. We are looking forward to helping our young singers develop confidence and enthusiasm towards music in addition to adding a new and fun element to the concert itself!
Instrumental music at PA is also stirring right now! Everyone has noticed at the football games that the band has grown significantly over the last few years, but what’s even more exciting than the growth is the improvement. The Middle School Band is performing music at concerts that was performed by the Upper School Band just a few years ago, and now the Upper School Band performs much more advanced music. Five years ago, one PA student auditioned into the All-Region Band; last year, fifteen students accomplished the same feat. Last Spring the Upper School Band earned a 1st division rating at Concert Assessment for the first time since 2005, and the Jazz Band shook the stage at Arkansas Jazz Fest in Little Rock. Both groups are traveling to New Orleans to perform in April 2019!
Lastly, but certainly not least, is the theatre department which has shown tremendous growth over the past few years. Mrs. Posey’s focus on education and high performance standards has paid dividends, as the product on the stage continues to improve over an already high standard set in her first year in 2015-2016. Her attention to detail and unwillingness to accept anything short of excellence has led to productions that have become “can’t miss” events.
Come see our collaborative performance of Frosty Follies on December 5! If you have a student in the Middle School, open their mind to the possibility of joining one of these wonderful programs in the Performing Arts department. Encourage them to sign up for beginning band, harmony girls/harmony boys, performing arts, or intro to technical theatre. In just a few short years, you will be amazed at all that your child is exploring, creating, contributing, and achieving!