NRG Creatively Green Family Festivals
New Augusta Public Acadamy South
Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania, Arts for Learning Indiana’s sister affiliate, has had great success in leading creative festivals with schools and families through the years. This year, their on-going partnership with NRG Energy, Inc. provided six other affiliates around the country the funds to replicate their engaging and dynamic creatively green festival that offer parents and students the chance to participate in hands-on art making to better understand the importance of environmental sustainability.
In the spring semester, Arts for Learning put a call out to schools to apply to host a Creatively Green Family Arts Festival. Winning schools receive the opportunity to host a family event featuring Arts for Learning environmental performances and workshops, celebrating imagination and creativity while promoting a better understanding of individual and community responsibility to protect our planet. Eight completed applications were reviewed by a panel of staff and board, and two winners were selected: New Augusta Public Academy South and Oaklandon Environmental Studies.
The structure of the 2-hour festival consists of art stations in various art forms, a community art project, and a performance to open and close the event. The art stations led by a professional teaching artists allow festival participants to identify environmental issues and explore solutions through art making.
The School Partners
New Augusta has 475 students in grades K-5th, and 42 teachers and staff. Approximate number of people in attendance at their festival is 250.
New Augusta South is located on the northwest side of Indianapolis in Pike Township. Since 2009, Kristie Wallace’s 5th grade class has hosted a Go Green Family night for their school, inviting a handful of community businesses and organizations to share hands-on activities to show families the importance of “going green.” Winning the NRG event would give their event a much needed boost, and enhance its appeal to the greater school community. Lead by 5th grade teacher Ms. Wallace, NAS formed a team of teachers to organize the event, including inviting the community businesses and coordinating grade level participation in the family event.
Oaklandon has 605 students in grades 1-6 coming from urban and suburban neighborhoods; they have about 48 people on staff. Approximate number of people in attendance at their festival is 367.
Oaklandon is one of two schools in Lawrence Township with an Environmental Science focus. The program immerses students in an environment that emphasizes discovery, exploration, collaborative study, scientific research, and use of scientific tools and technology. The school sits on 19 acres of which 10 acres are paved grounds and playgrounds and the rest is home to a native Indiana prairie developed during the spring of 2011. Their property contains a pond with native plants and animals, a walking path, over 200 native trees, a green house with a hydroponic system to grow different kinds of plants, 20 raised garden beds, a wind turbine, and many other outdoor features. The school property is a National Wildlife Certified Schoolyard Habitat.
Meaningful Student Learning
From Principal Jennifer Sheets, Oaklandon Elementary: “This festival was so important to us because it supported our magnet focus of Environmental Studies.”
From Ms. Tally Shanley, Title 1, Oaklandon Elementary: “Our students are always involved in “giving back” by mulching our trees, getting our vegetable garden beds ready for planting and doing many other tasks that need to be done each spring. The Creatively Green Family Art Festival was a perfect fit for our school. We had hundreds of visitors who made different kinds of art with their families.”
From Ms. Tally Shanley, Title 1, Oaklandon Elementary: “It was an evening with something for everyone: visual, musical, and theatrical opportunities for our families. The result of our community art project was a 9 foot tall welcome sign at the entrance of our new walking path and it was created by our students, teachers, families, and the artist, Jude Odell, from Arts for Learning.”
From Nikki Henson, Principal, NAS: “For the last 6 years, our school has been focused on recycling and being kinder to the environment. We have partnered with community sponsors, and with their help students have hosted a Go Green Night to encourage our school community to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. This year, our event was greatly enhanced with the addition of visual artists. People who attended our event let us know that this was the best event yet. They loved working with the artists to learn more about environmental sustainability. Parents, students, and community partners found the evening fun and informational. Many students have said they’ve begun recycling at home!” – Kristie Wallace, 5th grade teacher, NAS
“There were so many different activities for students and their families to learn from and figure out ways to make our environment better for us.”
"We all have a role to play in preserving and protecting our plant. The NRG Creatively Green Family Arts Festival was just one event that communicated, through the arts, an awareness of environmental issues and challenges. Community involvement and service is so important when it comes to taking action. Through community partnerships we are able to raise the awareness of local and global environmental conditions and issues, and take big steps in assuming the responsibility and taking action to preserve our planet." -Cassandra Thomas, Program Director - Oaklandon festival, Arts for Learning
"The arts offer a new and enticing approach to getting people interested in considering simple changes in their behavior that have lasting impact on the world around them." - Angela Yetter, Program Director - NAS festival, Arts for Learning