Many artists and arts lovers trace their initial spark of interest back to a high school music teacher.
For many high school students, music, drama, dance, orchestra, and chorus were integral to how they learned to express themselves, assert their individuality, collaborate with others—and most of all, discover that distinct sense of excitement and possibility many of us only get from the performing arts.
And so, Wolf Trap rewards the teachers who make it all possible—particularly those creating innovative new programs.
Each year, grants to pursue promising, one-of-a-kind programs are awarded to a select number of high school teachers from Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
2015-2016 Grant Recipients
Fairmont Heights High School, Prince George’s County, MD
The main act: Lawrence Farmer wants to give his talented music students more opportunities to hone their craft. In preparation for upcoming performance festivals, Farmer is using his Wolf Trap grant to bring famed jazz musician Eddie Baccus Jr. and gospel recording artist Ronnette Harrison to lead master classes on technique, tone quality, and performance. Funds from the grant will also help purchase additional instruments and new music, to improve the school’s music library and accommodate increased enrollment.
The grand finale: In April 2016, at the annual Fairmont Heights High School cluster concert, students from feeder schools will perform alongside the students from Fairmont Heights High School to present what they have learned to the community.
Paint Branch High School, Montgomery County, MD
The main act: Sean Kirchhoff has the desire to give his orchestra students opportunities to grow musically. He is using his Wolf Trap grant to support master classes led by professional composer Brian Balmages. Kirchhoff’s students will learn advanced performance techniques, as well as the creative process of writing a piece of music.
The grand finale:Students will perform Balmage’s composition at the school’s spring concert in May 2016 at Paint Branch High School.
Chantilly High School, Fairfax County, VA
The main act: Ed Monk wants his students to appreciate the art of children’s theatre. He is using his Wolf Trap grant to produce an in-school performance of Jack and Jill and the Beanstalk for 3rd and 4th graders from Intensive Schools. Guest Artist Puppeteer Matt McGee will teach students in the Technical Theatre and Theatre Arts classes how to build a proper children’s theatre production.
The grand finale:In January 2016, the Chantilly High School Drama Department will host the invited schools at the Chantilly High School theatre.
Park View High School, Loudoun County, VA
The main act: To promote artistic work that speaks to the local community, Mary Gayle will use her Wolf Trap grant to create a production of the bilingual play, ¡BOCÓN!. Students will participate in a series of master classes on lighting, sound, set design, costumes, and prop construction. Choreographer Cathy Caminero, a prominent local dance instructor originally from Venezuela, will also work with student dancers to guide the choreography of this large musical production.
The grand finale: The students will perform ¡BOCÓN! on February 11-13, 2016 at 7:30 pm at Park View High School.
Wakefield High School, Arlington County, VA
The main act: Always eager to create memorable performance experiences for his students, Brian Fisher will use his Wolf Trap grant to bring renowned composer Anthony O’Toole to commission a new piece of music for the Wakefield High School Band Ensemble. Classroom instruction will focus on performance technique and compositional devices that will lead to an exciting performance.
The grand finale: The students will perform O’Toole’s composition at the school’s spring concert in May 2016.
Benjamin C. Sands
Coolidge Senior High School, Washington, DC
The main act: Benjamin Sands wants to introduce his students to the magic of theatre by giving them the chance to put on an original school musical—a feat that hasn’t occurred at their school in more than 10 years! He has secured 3 artists-in-residence who will be leading master classes on playwriting, acting, and musicianship. The original contemporary musical, Just Like You, will showcase the talents of students with various backgrounds, including English Language Learners and Special Education students.
The grand finale: Just Like You will premiere on May 20, 2016 at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School.