The 2012 – 2013 school year marks the 25th anniversary ofCambridge (and areas all over Ontario as well) sending its brightest and most talented artists to Eastwood Collegiate Institute for their incredible Integrated Arts Program (IAP).
Current Eastwood Music Department Head, Kirsty Hunsberger-Shortt, is particularly excited about the upcoming celebrations. “I am planning to do a mass fiddle number that features current and former members from the 12 years of the Eastwood Fiddlers. I will also be inviting Arts Program alumni who attended the school earlier. Eastwood has an excellent tradition of music education that dates back to the school’s opening in 1956. Strings has always been a part of that tradition, and I am proud that the program continues to develop and to grow.”
Eastwood has gifted our children throughout the decades with the intimacy of stage experience, gallery art showings, provincial and national dance, music, film, drama & improvisational competitions and various performances at a variety of community festivals. The students have travelledOntario,North Americaand internationally, many of these trips offering the opportunity of performing and attending workshops while away. Hunsberger-Shortt is passionate about offering experiences to give our children confidence, “I want our students to gain an understanding of teamwork, commitment, dedication, hard work, and how all these qualities need to combine to put on a successful show or concert. I also want them to feel the thrill of a great performance and of being proud of what they’ve achieved.”
Led by principle Nancy Strobel, whose passion for education and the arts is both energizing and contagious, the magnet arts program has continued to grow and develop over the years, offering enrichment in dance, drama, music (band, strings, and vocal), visual arts, and the technical arts. It is interesting to note that Eastwood is currently the only school in the Waterloo Regional District School Board that boasts an industry-standard auditorium facility.
IAP has become an umbrella name for all art streams offered at Eastwood, however, technically there are 3 programs; IAP (enriched and practical), Strings Magnet, and the Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM). Artists interested in visual art, actors, dancers, musicians (vocal, band, strings) are drawn towards the IAP-enriched stream, while artists who enjoy the behind-the-scene happenings and who are perhaps more technically inclined, such as film makers, sound and lighting technicians etc., are drawn towards the IAP-practical stream.
The Strings Magnet program (the longest-running strings program in Waterloo Region) builds upon classical masters but also incorporates into the lessons rock (Led Zeppelin, seriously!) and Celtic Fiddle Music and makes sure everyone is having a great deal of fun while they are learning! In fact, Hunsberger-Shortt has claimed that “One of my personal missions in the Arts Program is to offer the students something that they can’t get anywhere else, and versatility as a performer is part of that mission.”
Finally, the SHSM program is available to those students in grade 11 and 12 who wish to deepen their knowledge and skills and become SHSM certified in the fields of communication/theatre technology, dance, dramatic arts, media/visual arts, or music.
Alumni Amelia Ballak is also very much looking forward to the reunion and remembers her time at Eastwood with great fondness. “My experience at Eastwood was much different than many of my other friends who attended high school elsewhere. The teachers were very supportive, giving understanding to the students who had many commitments with Arts Program extra curriculars. Also, we are so fortunate to have such an amazing principal and admin staff! Seriously wonderful people; so dedicated to our lives and studies!”
For those who have artist children moving up the ranks in junior schools, make sure you check out Eastwood’s website, http://eci.wrdsb.ca/ and keep your eyes posted for the grade 8 information night at Eastwood, and also at the board where Eastwood, along with all other magnet high schools, will have representatives to give more information on the programs!