The cast of the original play "Madhouse Jazz" -- Raleigh Froeber, left, Ashton Warner, Adam Feurer, Tony Berkhouldt, Alana Mueller, Brita Hofwolt, Jill Khazaal, Owen Berger and Adam Trecker -- posed in character.
Sculpting a festival
The creative talents of all grade levels will be showcased at the annual Arts Festival
As a school strongly rooted in the arts, it is only natural that Le Jardin Academy celebrates with an annual Arts Festival. For the past eight years, Le Jardin has boasted an event in which all of the arts are showcased, including painting, sculpture, drama and music. This year's event, on May 17, promises to be another fun-filled fete.
Le Jardin Academy
Susan St. John
Will Pelleteri and Kierstan Sussman
917 Kalanianaole Highway.
Kailua, HI 96734
An event as extensive as LJA's Art Festival naturally takes a lot of preparation. Art teachers Shoni Devitt and Amy Manso put together the display of the middle- and high-school student artwork with extensive help from parents and students. Throughout the year, art students create a variety of art from whimsical ceramic pieces to thought-provoking paintings, all of which will be displayed at the festival.
The most difficult part of the Arts Festival is "finishing in time for the deadline," Devitt said. "We have basically 2 1/2 days to hang roughly 2,500 works of art."
The final outcome, however, makes up for all the stress.
"It is one of my proudest teaching moments," Devitt said. "The students have an opportunity to see their whole portfolio on display in a very professional setting. I have never seen such an impressive student show."
Each student in lower-school art also gets to choose a piece to showcase in the Arts Festival, whether it is a painting, sculpture or drawing. In addition, each grade has created a collaborative piece that will be displayed. "The kindergartners and first-graders are doing a ceramic tile piece where everybody creates one tile," said Janice Corsino, one of the lower-school art teachers.
"And the second-graders are making a sand painting," added art teacher Linda Garbisch.
A variety of arts were showcased at last year's Arts Festival, ranging from realistic portraits by eighth-graders to abstract ceramics by high school students.
The Arts Festival provides a great outlet for the lower school to present its hard work.
"The kids really have a different perspective of their work when it's framed and on the wall. They get to stand next to it and have their 'brag time,'" Corsino said.
Drama and music students are featured in the Arts Festival, as well.
"It's nice to see all of our performing arts collectively -- actors, singers and musicians in the band," said senior Alana Mueller.
"This year the students will perform excerpts from 'Madhouse Jazz,' the play we created with the jazz band and choir," said Robert St. John, high school drama teacher.
"It's an opportunity to showcase the quirkiness of our theater program," emphasized senior drama student Brita Hofwolt, who plays a nun who runs a mental asylum.
"The play is set in 1929 and tells the story of a Prohibition-era gangster who invests in a supernaturally talented Russian boxer," St. John said. "It was a lot of fun writing a play that thematically incorporates the music of an era, and working with the directors of jazz band and chorus."
John Lundgren is LJA's middle- and high-school band teacher, and Louie Mundy teaches middle- and high-school chorus and dance.
Middle-school drama teacher Gretchen Nilsen added, "It's great seeing all the different arts come together." Nilsen's seventh- and eighth-grade drama classes will present scenes from their recent productions, "I Can't Go Out There!" by Burton Bumgarner, and "Cut," by Ed Monk.
The public is invited to the show on the Le Jardin campus at 917 Kalanianaole Highway in Kailua, May 17 from 3 to 6 p.m. The ukulele performance and middle-school drama presentations are in the middle school at 3:30, and the high school music and drama classes perform in the auditorium from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
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Ukulele choir brings schools together
For more than two decades, Beverly Allen has been strumming ukulele with her students at Le Jardin Academy. From a small choir in the 1980s, Allen has expanded her ukulele program to include two choirs, singers, dancers and other musicians such as a bass player and an occasional trumpet player.
The LJA Ukulele Choir initiated an exchange program called "Music Brings Us Together" with the Konan Boys High School, a private music school in Japan. Every other year the Ukulele Choir visits the Konan Boys' Jazz Ensemble on their home turf in Japan. On alternate years the Jazz Ensemble comes to Oahu.
On March 27 the Konan boys arrived here in Hawaii and stayed with Le Jardin families. Senior Jessica Sutton's family hosted two boys, Batao and Inoru, for five nights. Even though no one in the family speaks Japanese, it wasn't difficult to communicate.
"My mom did take Japanese in high school," Jessica said, "but all she really remembers is 'atsui,'" which means hot, "and goodbye, hello, good morning and wait a minute, please."
Luckily, both boys' English was quite good, Jessica said, and they filled in the gaps with hand gestures.
The Suttons gave the two boys a taste of Le Jardin life and took them along to the grocery store, the beach, Pinky's restaurant, the Kaneohe sandbar and a barbecue.
"Although it was frustrating at times," said Jessica, "I think it was a really great and fun experience for both my family and the students."
When LJA students go to Japan, they have just as much fun. Two years ago senior Emily Wong took part in the Ukulele Choir's trip to Japan.
"I had never been to Japan," said Emily, "and it seemed like it was going to be a lot of fun." As the Japanese students do here, Emily stayed with a host family. One of the children in her host family, Taro, played saxophone in the Konan band.
The Japanese are not only welcoming, but exceptionally appreciative. Allen remembers one concert where people were lined up, waiting to get in, "all the way outside and down the street." The LJA choir was pictured on a sign titled "Hawaiian Singing Breeze."
"The kids thought they had died and gone to heaven," said Allen. The audience even asked the choir for autographs.
The LJA students study Japanese culture before leaving for Japan because they stay as Japanese house guests.
"They have to learn how to enter the home," Allen said. They also learn Japanese etiquette such as proper table manners and proper greetings.
Students can join the Ukulele Choir as early as second grade. Fifth-grader Kelly Fricke finds the ukulele a gratifying instrument.
"It's something you can work towards and get better at," said Kelly.
Malia Belnap, also a fifth-grader, adds that it is a unique instrument. A unique skill the choir learns is playing the ukulele behind the head, a show-stopper that has wowed audiences for years.
When Allen joined the Le Jardin staff in the early '70s, the founder, Madame Neil, required all LJA teachers to play the ukulele. Ironically, Allen learned the ukulele in Canada and later started LJA's first ukulele exchange program, Hands Across the Sea, with schools in British Columbia. She did not anticipate that the humble ukulele choir would lead into an international music program.
"Now I'd miss it if we didn't have it as a part of our school," she said. "The ukulele choir attracts very special people who dare to do something different."
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"What is the most creative way to use a paper clip aside from its intended use?"
"To keep your pants from falling down."
"I use them to hold together little rubber erasers to make little action figures."
"Use it as a catapult."
"Dig my way to China."
"Hook them together to get to the moon."
"Combine cultures. With a metaphorical paper clip, obviously."
Make a play from the point of view of a paper clip.
"Scratch a poem in the dirt."