At Westwood, we believe in the development of the whole child. This very much includes development of the arts including music, visual art and theatre.
From the very beginning, preschool age children are given opportunities to sing, create and perform on a daily basis. These opportunities come from group-time songs and show-n-tell, dramatic play outside and the independent exploration of art materials and concepts on the Montessori “art shelf.” The ability to discriminate, match, and sequence sounds are also developed when using sound materials in the sensorial section of the classroom, as well as musical instruments.
When a student enters into the elementary years, more formal education begins. Children learn the essential elements and principles in music and visual art on a weekly basis. They also begin weekly poetry recitation: this skill teaches students memorization, public speaking skills, and how to be a good audience. Every year, elementary children participate in memorable theatrical presentations. Their expanded memory for recitation serves them well when they have to memorize several hundred lines for their plays!
One of the main facets of The Westwood School is its sense of community and nowhere is this aspect more evident than in the support and respect the students give each other while preparing for their roles and production responsibilities.
Upper Elementary Musicals
The first full-scale play production comes in the Upper Elementary (grades four through six). Students enjoy demonstrating their choral talents and discovering the musical abilities of their friends. They participate in building their first sets and being helped by the IB Diploma students.
Middle School Shakespeare
Westwood’s goal is to help students gain a better understanding of William Shakespeare’s plays and to challenge students intellectually and emotionally to better understand themselves and their responsibilities in reaching goals, both individual and group.
After reading and studying the themes and language of Shakespeare, students in Grade 7 and Grade 8 produce and direct one of the plays. Guided by administrators and teachers, students add a twist to Shakespeare’s masterpieces by setting the selected play in another era. Past productions have spotlighted 1950s Havana, pre-World War I France, an American Western motif, and a 20th century university campus.
This production enables student5s to stretch farther than just acting. They also learn the scope of producing, directing, advertising, and technical aspects of the theatre. In addition to planning and building sets (including light and sound systems (students design and sew the costumes and research the make-up and hairstyles appropriate for the production.
The public relations crew creates t-shirts, designs and writes the play program, and promotes the play to Westwood families. The production affords all students the opportunity to practice their project and team skills.
High School Musicals
All Westwood students in grades 9 and 10 continue to take a trimester each of music, visual art and theatre. When a student enters the Diploma Program in grade 11, they choose one of the three areas they wish to study in more depth. Westwood offers a Visual Art course and a Theatre course. All juniors travel to New York in their junior year to conduct an intensive study of their chosen subject (see ALPS information). Total theatre production including the intricacies of technical lighting and sound design continue into the High School years. Eleventh graders assist with staging and “working” the Upper Elementary production, performing & running the 9th/10th grade MYP production, and directing & designing the 7th/8th grade MYP production. Twelfth graders devise, design, direct, and perform in their own collaborative theatre pieces.
From drawing and painting maps in preschool to creating book covers in sixth grade, Westwood students have access to many media for their visual expressions in Lower School. They learn about artists’ styles and genres of art and then experiment while expressing their own ideas. Weekly art lessons and art materials available in each classroom give many opportunities to bring their concepts into reality.
In the Upper School, students have several lessons each week in art and have extra time to make their creations. In the 11th grade, if Visual Art is their choice then they create portfolios and pieces to meet the criteria given and display their work for the public. As they create, these students have kept process journals, researched the medium and methods and put together an Art Show that is highly praised.
Westwood has been well represented in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Arts competitions. Westwood students were the State Champions during both the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years, taking First Place in the Visual Arts Competition.