Arts at MPA is booming, with opportunities for expression and self-discovery for students of all ages. From choral groups and concert bands to visual art, photography, and multimedia production to a host of stage productions, a robust arts program is a key part of the Morgan Park Academy experience.
Morgan Park Academy has a long, rich history in the arts, including glee clubs and a swing band in early years. The current curriculum counts visual arts, drama, and music classes as pillars, including electives in ceramics, photography, culinary arts, and radio and podcasting.
In the MPA tradition, our dedicated teachers make sure students also learn skills outside of the classroom. Classes take field trips each year to enhance their learning, and with Chicago at our doorstep, the choices are endless. Students not only visit Chicago’s vast array of museums, but students run media publications and submit work to Artsonia, the largest student online art gallery in the world.
With companies increasingly hiring creative thinkers, parents should assume that a child’s ingenuity is the one true safety net available in times of rapid change. Arts education is an important way to develop that ingenuity and creative thinking.
This reasoning speaks to why the Academy has always encouraged cross-disciplinary classes and teaching. Studying the arts allows students to develop skills that apply in other classes. Through the study of patterns, sound, movement, and through the art itself of practice, one learns spatial skills that apply to mathematics, science, and language.
As visual art teacher Pat Egan explains, she loves teaching art because students gain so many insights: “Art teaches self-expression, teamwork, problem solving, that there is more than one solution to a problem, builds confidence, requires persistence, and gives students appreciation for multiple perspectives.”
Music teacher Michael Ellis says that his teaching style relies heavily on the Socratic Method, which helps “students find answers through critical thinking. As music is very subjective, it is important to me the student finds their voice, one that doesn’t just repeat mine.”
This sort of guidance allows students to truly develop their own opinion, which in turn, allows them to develop their own style, their own method to interpreting music. This approach also applies to other subjects: interpreting literature, critically analyzing arguments, applying reasoning in math and science. These invaluable lessons prepare students for higher learning and careers by teaching them to be self-sufficient learners and leaders.
But more than that, the opportunities that students have here at MPA are due to the nature of an Academy education, and the reason, year after year our students excel and are accepted into the top universities and colleges across the nation. This is because of the experiential curriculum that MPA offers students, but it is also in part due to being a part of an independent, PreK-12 school.
Music teacher Christian Rogala says his favorite thing about teaching at Morgan Park Academy is “the connection with all grade levels. In any department, you have the big ones helping and engaging the little ones, and the little ones reminding the older ones to always be young at heart and not to stress. It’s a beautiful interaction.”
In so many words, the arts program is growing, expanding its curriculum to provide more opportunities to students than it has in years past. At the Academy, we believe that all students possess the creativity and discipline needed to be an artist, whether it’s through painting and sketching, playing a musical instrument, or presenting a dramatic piece on stage.
MPA arts programs give all budding artists, from beginners to experienced, the chance to hone their skills, discover their artistic passion, and work together to create masterpieces.