Alumni Spotlight: Anna Dawson
Respect. Enthusiasm. Altruism. Commitment. Honesty. The REACH principles are the core principles that guide the way CA students interact with each other and the world. Anna Dawson (’19), has stayed connected to the school even after graduation and is actively living the principle of altruism. This spring, Anna reached out to her former Physical Education Teacher Tracy Sullivan with a generous offer: she wanted to donate her extra cross-country ski equipment to the CA program, rather than selling it.
“I have a love for cross country skiing and want to share it with others. I wanted to give back to the place that gave so much to me in terms of skills, opportunities, and friendship,” said Anna.Now in her third year at the University of Toronto completing a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology, Anna knows from experience and from her studies the mental benefits of getting outdoors and moving. As someone who had participated in CA's Outdoor Education Cross Country Skiing program in Grade 10, Anna benefitted from exploring CA’s aspen forests, and snow-covered fields and parks around the city. She hopes the equipment will bring students together to share some laughs during the pandemic. For her, getting outside allows her to think more clearly and with the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions she believes this will be the perfect activity for students and staff alike.
“Knowing Anna, she likely thought it was 'no big deal' but her donation of cross-country skis to the school actually set off a plan to get more of our students trying something new this season,” said Tracy Sullivan, Head of Physical Education.When asked what prompted her to think of the school she attended from Grades 4-12 Anna says, “I was part of the community for so long as a student that now as an adult I want to help others receive the benefits that helped me achieve my goals. I also want to stay connected and bring value to the community and be a voice for what CA did for me and what it can do for others.”
“Anna has always had a heart of gold, and her kindness has a much bigger impact than she knows. I think it is very special that she thought of her school when looking to rehome something so valuable. We appreciate her donation so much and will use it for years to come,” said Tracy.Thank you, Anna, for living the REACH principles and supporting our students!
Making Music in a Pandemic
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic shifting learning from in-person to online numerous times throughout the school year, Calgary Academy staff and students have embraced the opportunities presented from these ever-changing realities. While indoor music programs have been limited this school year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Becky Funk, K-12 Music Teacher at CA, took a creative approach to ensure students still had the chance to participate in engaging music opportunities through the “Composer in Residence” program, which included a four-part Funk Band workshop series and an eight-week Concert Band series. Supported by outside experts from the Music Creators’ Academy (MCA), an innovative program that composes and shares music in virtual environments, Becky has been able to shift to a fully online music environment and challenge students to create music and collaborate in new and fascinating ways.
“People assumed that we couldn’t make music together online, but we just have to shift our perspective to view the internet as a different form of instrument and venue,” said Becky.Two faculty members of MCA, Dr. Benjamin Taylor and Dr. Garrett Hope, have been alternating monthly workshops with the Funk Band (grades 4-6). Each workshop challenged students to explore perspectives on musical creation, with focuses on improvisation and creation. For the Concert Band series (grades 7-12), Dr. Taylor has been working with students on composition and creation. The eight-week series will culminate in a live virtual concert on June 3 where the Concert Band will perform a composition they’ve created together. Moving to a virtual world has forced a shift from tradition for bands. In addition to not being in the same physical space, video conferencing platforms have posed new questions about how to create music together, which students have answered by adjusting sound settings, using music-making objects found at home, and incorporating the chat and video functions into their compositions. Rather than being frustrated by these new elements, students have recognized technology’s ability to create a unique musical experience. Funk Band had a relatively seamless transition to virtual rehearsals as it is common practice for them to bring funky instruments and ideas together to create original compositions. Concert Band, on the other hand, traditionally has specific instruments, songs, and rehearsal techniques associated with the ensemble that needed to be reconsidered and adapted to find success in this new format.
“The Concert Band had to go through a really big change and reimagine every aspect of our rehearsals, but the students have shown such patience, adaptability, and enthusiasm working through this new reality together all year,” emphasized Becky.As we all know too well, relationships are difficult to maintain online, and trust is crucial to any musical ensemble. In order to build an online culture that enables the learners to trust one another and take risks, relationship-building must be intentional, embedded, and treated with great care. One example of this was during the first meeting of the eight-week Concert Band series; Dr. Taylor made relationships and culture his priority, opening up about his personal interests and learning about the young musicians in return.
“It’s been really inspiring seeing the kids coming every week, always willing to try something new. Every week, rehearsal looks a bit different, but the young musicians’ enthusiasm and resilience haven’t changed,” said Becky.After the completion of the eight-week series, a live virtual concert will be held on June 3. Doors open at 4:45 p.m. and the concert begins at 5 p.m. All parents are invited to join the virtual concert. Interested parents should check the parent newsletter for the zoom event concert information.
This past weekend, FestivARTS made its debut. Clinicians from across the globe, students and teachers from across Canada, all supported by a strong CA Team. The team is grateful for this experience and owe some well-deserved thank you's to several people: Thank you to the FestivARTS CA Team The time, effort and heart that everyone put into this festival formed the foundation of relationships upon which all others were built. Thank you for investing yourselves in this project - it wouldn't have been possible without each and every one of your contributions. Thank you to the Participants CA was represented at the festival by 10 young musicians. Their creativity and collaboration skills made the CA community proud and contributed to 5 original compositions that were performed at the FestivARTS live virtual concert. If you see them in the hallway, congratulate them on their participation and performance! Grade 7: Luke W, Jalen W, Andy J, Lauren E, Lars K-E Grade 8: David S, Jedi J Grade 10: Sarah I Grade 12: Christian M, Courtney F Thank you to the Flies on the Wall The team is so grateful for the CA Community members who joined in the FestivARTS Community as Flies on the Wall, observing the variety of workshops over the course of the weekend. Thank you for making your presence felt and for supporting this initiative! Thank you to the CA Community Thank you for the encouragement, the positive comments, and the support. Conversations are starting for FestivARTS 2022. If you would like to become an organizing member of this community, send Becky Funk a message. Thank you to Mayor Nenshi who kicked off FestivARTS Saturday and welcomed everyone with some inspiring words about the importance of arts in education. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oV0G5JaPe2c[/embed]