The pivotal role of the arts is a defining hallmark of Shady Hill. Through music, art, drama, and woodworking, children both shape and respond to what they are learning. In regularly scheduled arts-related classes with adults who are themselves practicing artists, Shady Hill students explore and create. Beginners through sixth graders have regularly scheduled time in the arts department each week. In seventh and eighth grades, students choose arts electives from a wide variety of offerings each trimester.
The school has well-equipped studios for drawing, printmaking, painting, animation, ceramics, sculpture, fiber arts, and other activities. Teachers search for a balance between instruction and self-expression as students learn to shape their own points of view and feelings, while discovering new techniques to manipulate the materials before them.
Woodworking begins in special areas of the Beginners and Kindergarten classrooms: by first grade, children are learning the use of hand tools in the woodshop. In fifth grade, they begin working with machine tools. Students of all ages develop the skills involved in careful planning and accurate execution as they complete increasingly complex woodworking projects over their years at Shady Hill.
Shady Hill’s music program helps build a sense of community through its role in regular school assemblies, celebrations, and concerts. While singing is the foundation of musical experiences in classes and regular singing assemblies, the program also incorporates movement, listening, playing instruments, reading and writing notation. Often classes present a performance related to their Thematic Study or Central Subject. Choruses and orchestras are available starting in third grade, and jazz bands are available starting in fifth grade.
Drama is an integral part of each grade’s work and helps children learn to understand and identify with the period and people they study. Our youngest children may act out a story or put on a puppet play while older students will perform in traditional plays or design their own productions, all built around Central Subject topics, from Whaling to Hades to Ancient Ghana or Colonial times. Performances may take the form of a living wax museum, musical, dramatic monologue, group skit, or whatever can be imagined!