“Mom, I want to play the drums!”
This was most likely the statement many parents heard in October after Troy Kryzalka, owner of Number Drummer, visited the Neuse Charter School campus.
But Kryzalka wasn’t there to find members for a new rock band or hold auditions for the next talented kid reality show, he was there as part of Johnston County’s Artists in the School program (AIS).
The program, sponsored by the Johnston County Art Council, is used throughout the county as a way to expand basic curriculum through performances, hands-on workshops and residencies with professional artists.
Number Drummer wasn’t just about loud, pulsating music...it was about math too!
Zoe Hubbard, a sophomore at NCS, has been participating in the educational program for the past eight years. “I enjoy that we have the performers come because they help teach and widen our learning for all things from poetry to black history to musical history,” she said. “I believe that we, the students, would not get this type of experience at other schools, which I am thankful that we do.”
Parent volunteers Kitty Ann Lloyd and Geri Hubbard (Zoe’s mom) organize the program for Neuse Charter School and arrange for three performances a year for the entire student body.
“Each summer the arts council holds a showcase where artists set up informational booths and some have 5 minute sample performances,” said Lloyd. “We try to think outside of the box when selecting performers so our students will be exposed to many different kinds of disciplines.”
Hubbard and Lloyd present their picks to NCS administrators who then make the final decision on which artists will be invited to campus.
The program started at NCS in 2007 when the school was very new with very few resources and no formal art, drama or music electives to engage and educate students.
“Geri and I felt strongly that students benefit from exposure to the arts so we decided to run a volunteer cultural arts program,” said Lloyd.
The tenacious moms held weekly cultural events classes for the small student body. As the school and its formal programs grew the need for a volunteer cultural arts program diminished; however the Artists in the School program stayed.
The school funds the program with revenue generated from Box Tops for Education. It also receives a matching grant from the Johnston County Arts Council. In addition, the council helps the school with the administrative functions of hosting the program, which Lloyd says is a big help.
The next program will be held on Thursday, Jan. 21 as the students return from a short winter break and the end of second quarter. The January program is called “Magical Ireland: Folktales and Music” and features traditional Irish stories, music and dance in a fast-paced, humorous, interactive presentation.
In the spring, school organizers are tapping into the popularity of such bands as Pentatonix by offering “The Magic of a Cappella.” NCS students will learn the history of a cappella, the science of sound and vocal techniques to achieve specific effects.
Lloyd sees the program as a crucial part of an NCS education. She quoted from the Johnston County Arts Council’s website about the importance of this program, “The arts provide a way for children to develop the critical and creative thinking skills they will need to compete in real world situations. Research shows that arts-infused instruction builds parental involvement, encourages self-esteem, instills community values and increases student achievement both in the classroom and on standardized tests.”