Begun in 2003, the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Arts Alliance has continued a partnership with the St. Mary’s County Public Schools and St. Mary’s Ryken High School to bring the richness of the College’s diverse arts programs to local high school students. The Arts Bridge Program is aimed primarily at high school arts and humanities students and has brought over a thousand students to the College since 2003. In this program students participate in poetry workshops with English Professors Jeffrey Coleman and Michael Glaser; music master classes under the direction of Maestro Jeffrey Silberschlag; visual arts workshops in Boyden Gallery with gallery director Mary Braun; theater workshops with professors Michael Ellis-Tolaydo and Holly Blumner; and dance workshops with Professor Merideth Taylor. For many of these students, it is their first real opportunity to visit a college campus and to see what a college arts program might has to offer.
While on campus, students also have an opportunity to visit the beautiful Campus Center Dining Room. There, they may choose from a delightful array of vegetarian and other healthful foods from various corners of the world. For a short time, our visiting high school students are able to experience what it is like to be a student at the College during a busy mealtime.
In 2005 the Arts Bridge program included a special presentation of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The production was staged by St. Mary’s College senior Megan Lehr, with the help of fellow drama students, and as part of her SMC Senior Project. As a result, drama students from local middle and high schools were able participate in a project that sought to recreate the atmosphere of the Olde Globe Theater, with lively interaction between the College’s student actors and their younger audience. SMCPS students were also treated to other more specialized workshops before and after the performance, exposing them to the language and acting techniques applicable to the times of the Olde Bard.
“But why not show the students that there was once a world without mass media where the actors were society’s outcasts rather than pop icons, and where it was the language itself that was a prized possession.” Megan Lehr, SMC Senior
In 2006, St. Mary’s County Public School orchestra members had a special opportunity to join the Chesapeake Orchestra and Maestro Jeffrey Silberschlag in a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at a Maryland Day concert. The students prepared for this concert by attending music master classes college music professors José Cueto, violin; Jennifer Rende, viola; Suzanne Orban, cello; and Ed Malaga, bass.
St Mary’s County students visiting the College’s Boyden Gallery have been introduced over the years to a wide variety of visual art forms brought to the Gallery by artists from a spectrum of cultures and artistic disciplines. Gallery staff has also led the kids in hands-on exercises to stimulate student creativity and cement their understanding of the artists’ vision.
“As the students unwrapped the yarn to discuss how the pieces in the exhibit may have been related to each other, they revisited each personal discovery.” Susan McNeill, Arts Alliance Outreach Committee Chair
Your support for this and other Arts Alliance programs is greatly appreciated. The Arts Alliance welcomes special contributions in support of the Arts Bridge Program.