Clarksville, TN – As the Barksdale Elementary second-graders filed out of music teacher Denise Rives’ class on February 25th, one of the students had a very important thing to say.
“That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!” he declared before slipping into the hallway back toward class.
The Nashville Opera performed at Barksdale Elementary thanks to the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts (CECA) at Austin Peay State University and the generous support of the Heydel Family Foundation.
CECA once again has been sponsoring free, professional-level arts experiences for K-12 students in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System (CMCSS).
The February 25th performance at Barksdale entertained about 100 students. Earlier in February, CECA brought the Nashville Opera to seven elementary schools for live performances and nine other elementary schools through virtual performances.
The performances help to connect the students to a high-caliber arts experience, Rives said.
“It’s a great experience for these children because many of them will never get to experience a live performance like this,” she said. “For them to get to see something of this caliber, right in front of them, really is a great experience.”
CECA’s Arts Experiences Grants
Each school year, CECA sponsors creative arts experiences for students throughout CMCSS. The center launched the experiences in the 2018-19 school year.
Since 2018, the experiences – which include area organizations such as the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center, Roxy Regional Theatre, Nashville Opera, and Nashville Shakespeare Festival – have reached more than 12,000 CMCSS students.
“It is really magical to watch how the students react to these experiences,” said Dr. Janice Crews, CECA’s director. “I’m so proud of this program and the impact it’s made so far.”
CMCSS also receives CECA funding for arts education initiatives such as Partners in Education, which provides professional development for K-12 teachers and teaching artist residencies in local schools.
“CECA always is a wonderful sponsor for great opportunities for our kids,” Rives said. “Having an organization here in town really works to bring the arts to our kids, and that’s an incredible thing.”
More Perfect Morsels
The Mary Ragland Emerging Artists who performed for the Barksdale Elementary students were Ivy Zhou, Christian Patterson, Logan Dell’Acqua, Emily Triebold, and You Zhao.
They’re presenting the play to schools throughout Middle Tennessee.
For more information about how CECA is bringing engaging experiences through art, music, theatre, dance, and creative writing to the Clarksville community and Middle Tennessee, visit www.apsu.edu/ceca.