Spring 2020 in Review

The just-concluded Spring semester challenged educational communities everywhere. But no one familiar with Idyllwild Arts could have been surprised by the determined and creative response of our students to their new learning reality after the Academy’s in-person, hands-on instruction ended in mid-March. In their homes they not only adapted swiftly to online classes but stayed creative, posting videos like this one by just-graduated Theatre major Aysia Stewart, this by rising twelfth-grader and Jazz major Joe Davis, living in Jamaica, and this by Joe Davis in collaboration with just-graduated pianist Michael Dunaevsky, winner of this year’s Outstanding Artist award. 
 
The Idyllwild Arts faculty also responded creatively to the need to alter their teaching styles overnight. Academy teachers worked during much of the three weeks of Spring Break to have online classes ready on April 6, when the school year resumed. The lessons learned about online interaction by both students and faculty led to a stunning sequence of virtual arts department culminations, including the Visual Arts culmination linked in this newsletter.  
 
That Visual Arts culmination was a striking example of how online interaction provoked our students and faculty to reinvent exhibits and performances. Young painters or sculptors deprived of a gallery–like a dancer who has no space for movement larger than his parents’ living room–are faced with new choices for displaying their work. Our artists embraced those choices in exciting ways that will leave an impact on their arts departments and art disciplines long after the danger of COVID-19 has passed.           
 
Going online also produced a gratifying expansion of our definition of community as parents joined their children in appreciating what one East Asian parent called the teachers’ “dedication and dynamism.” The same parent called the online classes “invigorating and connecting” and “amazing,” saying they “have become a welcome part” of home life.
 
Finally, the Academy’s innovative transition served as a laboratory for the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program. The Summer Program staff’s takeaway from the Academy’s successful experiment with online classes is 2020 Summer Program Reimagined, offering online workshops for both young people and adults.

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