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Dr. Brass Fine Arts Academy debuts live performance

Program aims to engage students through the performing arts.

YORKTON – The Dr. Brass Elementary Fine Arts Academy presented their rendition of the popular musical 'Newsies' on Tuesday evening at the Anne Portnuff Theatre.

"The Dr. Brass Fine Arts Academy provides the opportunity for youth to immerse themselves in the Fine Arts every afternoon. Students enrolled in this Academy will select either the Performing Arts (dance & drama), or Visual Arts pathway," read a statement on the school's website.

"This is [the programs] second year," said Tammy Kostersky, Performing Arts teacher at Dr. Brass, adding that the show marked the program's very first public performance which was practiced over the course of the school year.  

"It went really really well – the kids were so excited to participate and perform on the stage," said Kostersky, adding, "we have students anywhere from ones who have danced for years already to brand new performers."

"It was very touching, it was a great story for them to relate to – the story of Newsies is about the 1899 New York city strike – the [Newsboy] strike," said Kostersky, noting, "it was relatable for them – we also used that story to study social studies and health as well as their arts education."

"That's what the performing arts academy does – it uses the performing arts to not only build their skill level in dance, acting and musical theatre, but also to achieve the academic outcomes in social studies, health, and phys-ed," said Kostersky.

Kostersky said that Dr. Brass is the only school in Yorkton that offers this type of education.

"It gives all those people somewhere to belong," said Kostersky, "if you can find – in your school – a place for you to belong, success is inevitable, right?"

"That's the thing about Good Spirit School Division – they're looking for ways to continue to engage our youth and so this was what they decided on with Dr. Brass – was to bring in these opportunities to engage their students through their passion," said Kostersky.

"For me – my part – is engaging students through the performing arts," said Kostersky, adding, "I own and operate Dance Innovations and I'm also a dance teacher there, but I'm also a teacher for the Good Spirit School Division as well."

"We made it part of the curriculum," said Kostersky, "when we study social studies, we're using this to study healthy relationships and power and authority – so it's been kind of the center of our year."

Kostersky said there was book work involved with understanding the perspectives of those involved in the famous Newsboy strike of 1899.  

"So, what they're going to do is be studying the [Newsboy] strike of 1899, but they're going to be looking at it from a different point of view," said Kostersky, adding, "there was book work in order to research that and then they would use that to write stories about the different characters."

"They did one project, for example, where they had to choose a side between the people that were striking and the business owners," said Kosterky, "so they had to bring in all of their information about what they know about 1899 and what was happening at that time and use that in order to write a story from their perspective – to understand what their perspective would be in 1899 New York."

Kostersky said she feels the program and performance have garnered interest among the youth and their parents.

"I'm extremely excited about the program – to see children that are engaged – that's why we do our job, that's really the dream," said Kostersky, adding, "after the show last night there was definitely some emails and some people in the lobby, and some of the younger children that participated and people from the community asking more questions."

"For some people it's hockey, or baseball or soccer – and for some kids it's performing arts – so just having that opportunity there for them is what we're there for," said Kostersky, adding, "sports are always there – because that's the first go to – so having the opportunity in a school like Dr. Brass to be in performing arts is so uniqe and really critical for our youth to be able to feel like they have a place."

Kostersky said for more information on the program and enrolment, contact Dr. Brass School or visit their website.