Going along with our theme of “Buy Local” Arts Integration, here is a program that is demonstrating that principle in Ellicott City, MD.  Preschoolers at the Ellicott City Head Start school are working with a local opera singer to create and sing their own operas. Explore Howard: Ellicott City preschoolers get a head start on opera, thanks to Lewis.

This partnership provides many of the links I was talking about in my last post.

“The Head StART in ART program is a partnership between the Ellicott City Head Start Center, a federally funded program, and the Howard County Arts Council. Through the program, preschool children are given hands-on access to in-depth art experiences ranging from dancing to painting — or, in Lewis’ case, singing.

Since Nov. 8, Lewis, of Bowie, has been teaching six classes of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds in Head Start classes. The 50-some students, who spent more than a month learning the concept of opera, will perform Lewis’ original operas based on “The Little Red Hen” and “The Gingerbread Man” for friends, family and the public Wednesday at the Black Box Theatre at the Howard County Center for the Arts, in Ellicott City.

The students in the Head Start program are from low-income families and otherwise might not be exposed to such influences, Lewis said.

‘This can be a steppingstone for other cultural and classical experience, whether it be art or dance or drama,’ she said. “This can be a pathway for them being willing to accept other art forms.

‘Kids this young should be exposed to all kinds of things because this is the time they’re most receptive. It’s an age before they have a chance to be tainted or influenced negatively in any way. They come at anything you give them with the purest sense of acceptance.’

Lewis meets with the classes twice a week for half an hour, during which time the students sing and work on art projects.”

This type of collaboration can have an amazing array of implications.  It deepens student learning and engagement, builds upon current knowledge to extend their experiences beyond what students would normally have access to, and provides the artist and community with a link to their future.  Could this be done in city schools, rural districts or the like?  I would think a definite “YES” would resound here.