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Opening Minds Through the Arts

Fruchthendler Firebirds Soar to New Heights!Jacob C. Fruchthendler Elementary School, (Tucson, AZ). Jacob C. Fruchthendler Elementary School is an Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) Gold School. OMA uses instrumental music, opera, dance, theater, and visual arts to help teach reading, writing, math, and science to children in kindergarten through 8th grade.

The school has an OMA Arts Integration Specialist (AIS) and other artists who work with students to integrate the arts into the curriculum. For example, in kindergarten, students work with two symphony artists on their English language arts skills using instrumental music. In first grade, three musicians teach the writing process through opera. Each class demonstrates their understanding of opera, music, and storytelling through the creation of an original opera they perform. Second graders have a dance teacher who teaches and supports the math and science curriculum in creative ways, helping the students interpret ideas through dance and movement. In third grade, the AIS teaches students how to read music and play the recorder. All students learn to play the violin with lessons twice a week in fourth grade. Fifth grade students have a choice between advanced orchestra or band twice weekly. All students receive weekly lessons with the AIS and perform at least twice a year.

All the classes have volunteer art parents in charge of teaching art enrichment lessons with teacher oversight. Art parents strategically plan lessons to align with the curriculum. They go above the school’s expectations in planning, implementing, and displaying the work created during art lessons. The school’s hallways are full of a variety of student artwork showcasing many different mediums. Fruchthendler also has a kiln on site used to create clay projects. Through the years students have created ceramic art that decorates the campus.

At the end of the year, the PTA sponsors an art show where each student’s favorite art piece is framed, displayed, and can be purchased.