Saturday, March 12, 2011

Voices of Nature

Thursday, March 3rd was a special night for the girls.  It was the Voices of Nature concert and Learning Gallery at their school.    For the past several months, Confederation Park Elementary had Holly Arntzen and Kevin Wright in their school for special visits as part of an "Artists in the School" program.   They had The Dream Band accompanying them, which included guitarist David Sinclair who has toured with K.D. Lang and Sarah McLachlan 

Several years ago, Holly and Kevin founded Voices of Nature - a music and arts program focusing on sustainability, ecology, environmentalism and nature. How very British Columbian, you might say! Holly and Kevin are both accomplished musicians who passionately believe in their environmental message, but combine it with tonnes of fun, great music, and the ability to get kids to eat out of the palms of their hand.  

The students of Confederation Park were fortunate to have a parent advisory council that believes so strongly in the arts and was able to make it possible to host Voices of Nature for this school year.  It's exciting to be part of a school community where parents make things that they are passionate about happen for their kids.

The evening began with a Learning Gallery set up in the hallways and the classrooms of the school.  Each class worked on a project or two that tied into the theme of the environment and sustainability.

Hannah's class focused on learning about the natural resources of each province and territory.  Hannah and her partner Wesley presented Manitoba!  You'd think Hannah would know a thing or two about that amazing province!

Sasha's Kindergarten class focused on turtles.  They researched turtles, then created a 3-D turtle using mod-podge, clay, cardboard and tissue paper.  

They also used water colors to paint a turtle and the colors of the ocean.

Ellie's class presented their self-directed projects on plants and animals they were interested in. 
Here's Ellie's frog and habitat.

This is Ellie and her special friend Anna.  
We think Anna looks a lot like Ellie's friend Brynne back in Winnipeg.

The grade 3/4 class focused their learning on Salmon.  They have been raising salmon in their classroom from the egg stage to the fry stage.  Once their salmon reach the fry stage, they plan to release them into the Brunette River system.  Amazingly, their teacher let them at it, and they each took part in dissecting a full-grown salmon!  

As we were waiting for the concert to begin, I knew we had to get a picture of this!  This little girl is Evie - she is the daughter of our friend's Soo Sen and Ray.  Have you ever seen a more West Coast picture? 

"Little Asian girl waits for Voices of Nature concert while snacking on sushi".

Finally the concert started!  The girls were so excited for us to hear all they had been learning and working on.  As soon as Holly came onto the stage you knew you were in for a West Coast treat!  She took off her shoes, ran around barefoot, and wailed on her dulcimer while her hippie-esque hair and beads swayed with the music.   Our friend Ray whispered, "I feel just like I'm at Woodstock!"  

The kids sang their hearts out.  

In all my years of teaching and parenting, I have never been to a school concert like this before!  The kids sang with a vigour, volume, and enthusiasm that would knock your socks off.  There were hoots and hollers from the audience, dancing at the back of the gym, loud claps, and opportunities for the students to be creative.

Just listen to some of the song titles:
       "Up Your Watershed"
       "Salish Sea"
       "Life Cycle Dance"
       "Orca Baby"
       "I Am the Future"

Does it can any more "Left Coast" than that?

The music was interspersed with word and dance performed by different students.  Several students shared how ecology and sustainability personally affected them.  One of the best moments of the night was a grade 6 student from China who is just learning the English language give a speech about the future with confidence and pride.   At another point in the evening, another student from grade 6 sang a solo in her first language of Spanish.   It's always amazing for me to experience school through the eyes and ears of students from so many different cultures.  

Here are some grade 2/3's performing the "Salmon Life Cycle" dance.   

What was truly amazing for me to see were the faces of the kids on stage.  You could tell that they felt like rock stars.  They were given freedom and the ability to express themselves in unique ways. Their bodies moved to the beat of their own drums while they sang collectively.  It was great to see all of the school community - from Kindergarten students, to Grade Seven students, to Staff, enjoying the evening.

Here's a little taste...  I'm sure Papa Herb will especially enjoy the references to pumping oil!

It was a fantastic night of music, movement, and community.


  1. what an amazing experience for Hannah, Ellie and Sasha & their peers.

  2. looks like such a great school!