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Academy Highlights | Session II, Week 5

Grammar School Highlight | Fourth Grade With Mrs. Amy Gast

Our fourth grade class recently welcomed Addison's father, Mr. Adam Barker, to our classroom for a special lesson. Mr. Barker is an art historian who specializes in Renaissance art and brought printouts of paintings of St. Jerome to discuss with our class as a follow-up to our recent lesson on this Latin priest and translator of the Latin Vulgate. Paintings of St. Jerome typically include a lion, a skull, and St. Jerome painted in red. As we considered these traditional depictions of St. Jerome, Mr. Barker led a fascinating discussion about symbolism in art.

We were also given the opportunity to study the page of a hymn book from a church in Spain with the Latin words written in ink on vellum. Mr. Barker explained the elaborate process of creating the page from the preparation of the vellum itself to the pinpricked holes used to hold string from side to side in order to create straight lines. Through their observation, our students were able to identify some of the Latin words on the page, which dated back to about the year 600.

Thank you so much, Mr. Barker, for sharing your profession and wisdom with our fourth grade class!

Enrichment Highlight | Ballet With Mrs. Hamblen

Session II is when our ballet dancers take the technical training they learned during Session I and apply it to performance training. What better way to do this than to prepare for our annual Christmas production of The Greatest Gift? Right now, each ballet class is in full rehearsal mode preparing for the ballet portion of this special performance.

Rehearsals require patience, self-control, attentiveness, and perseverance as we practice the choreography again and again to memorize each step with its dedicated count, to understand our formation and be mindful of spacing, and to know exactly where our heads, hands, legs, and feet should be at each moment. This is a lot to think about for any ballerina no matter what age! However, all of this work seems worth it when we dim the house lights in our auditorium so that the stage lights shine all the brighter and for a brief one minute and 30 seconds our dancers experience the thrill of dancing in the spotlight. For Grammar School ballet, our class always ends with a practice performance, and the giggles and squeals that ensue from their excitement of performing fills the room with unavoidable joy. For our Upper School, the students are divided into groups and take turns performing on stage. The cheers and the bravos they give to one another after each bow is so life-giving that it makes you feel as if you hung the moon.

This year, the dancers will be performing to an instrumental variation of "The Holly and the Ivy," and the ballet is positioned to portray the joy of the shepherds upon hear the great news that Christ has come! This has always been such a special part of the Christmas story for me. I love how the first people to hear of this good news were not the kings and queens of the day, but rather shepherds who were out in the fields tending to their flocks. This reminds me that Jesus came to this world to save not just the kings and the queens people of high importance, but He also came for people like you and me, people like the shepherds, and we are all important to Him.

And so, as we continue to rehearse and practice and go over 8 count after 8 count, we will be "praising His name with dancing" and sharing in the joy of the shepherds upon hearing, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord!" Luke 2:11

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