February/March 2019 65
The Harker School in San Jose produces
88 various music and theater shows a year
across its lower, middle and upper schools,
while also putting on an annual concert
series where award-winning musicians
perform and spend a day workshopping
with students. The upper school, grades
9 through 12, offers a four-year conservatory
with various arts focuses, along with a
more rigorous Certificate program—all of
which is geared toward providing a college
major-like focus for more serious young
musicians and performers.
Like Harker, schools that adopt an artsheavy
philosophy see these opportunities
affecting all students, rather than only those
who are pursuing serious passions or potential
careers in the arts.
“Even if they go into engineering, let’s say,
they’re going to be able to think and work
as a team more creatively and at a higher
level,” says Jeannine Flores, the visual and
performing arts coordinator in the Santa
Clara County Office of Education.
The most foundational benefits might
be seen in arts programs integrated into the
curricula of the lower grades of Bay Area
schools, where important life skills and values
are being fostered at the young and crucial
ages of development.
At Pinewood School, which was first
founded as an after-school arts program in
Los Altos, musical theater teacher Lauren
Post oversees 10 musicals a year across the
school’s third through sixth grade classes.
“By having the children get up and stand
in front of people and speak and sing and
present themselves, it gives them a sense
of confidence in a way that I don’t think
is attainable in any other way,” Post says.
Beyond the performances, the behind-thescenes
operation of sets and costumes fosters
team-building, she adds.
Yet, the consistent developmental theme
might be best summed up as what Nueva art
teacher Dawson calls “divergent thinking.”
In art classes, students are allowed the
opportunity to think outside the box in a
school setting that, especially at a young
age, is typically predicated upon structure.
And in schools like Nueva and Harker,
students are given the evolving resources
and tools to do so.
Dawson refers to Nueva’s Innovate Labs,
play in a Beatles cover
band for music class at
in “Once Upon a