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Anchoring a Community With Artistic Collaboration

Anchoring a Community With Artistic Collaboration
Devon Fitchett, Performing Arts Department Head

As we begin the 2022-23 school year, I’m struck by the evolution of our community over the course of the last 15 or so years and particularly how it’s been accelerated during the last three years. I think about how we’ve had to re-examine our processes and priorities and redesign accordingly for pandemic and post-pandemic learning. Now, we’re in a new phase of change as we literally watch the demolition of our Classroom Building to pave the way for an amazing new facility that will enhance the overall experience of our community. 

This change does not come without some level of discomfort. For some, this means teaching and learning in different, maybe unfamiliar spaces. For others, it means longer than usual treks to get where we need to go. For all, it means checking our adaptability and challenging our level of flexibility. These moments of change force us to directly confront our priorities and to explore what is central to the Dana Hall experience. How do we hold on to these aspects of our community amidst a constant of change?

While on a larger scale we’re examining and refining our philosophical priorities and how our new physical space can move us forward as leaders in alignment with those priorities, we find comfort in what defines us as individuals — as well as what connects us — to strengthen our community.

I see this firsthand as the chair of the Performing Arts department, where so much of what we do relies on interdisciplinary artistic collaboration between students, between teachers, and between teachers and students. As practicing artists and arts educators, quite often, what we practice is a core piece of our identity. Likewise, the students we work with share an affinity for and identify strongly with their art. This connection we experience with our students enhances learning during what we may have considered normal times before, and really serves as an anchor during a time when so much seems to be in flux. It is a privilege to be able to reflect upon and process all that is happening around us and thoughtfully channel it — in  collaboration with others in safe spaces that feel like home — into something beautiful and meaningful. Through this experience we reinforce our own sense of identity and our collective sense of community.

I’m deeply excited about the progress of our school and feel equally grateful for the opportunities these changes provide to explore, grow, and find new points of connection that will bring us together as we enter this new phase of our history.