Local students will soon have a chance to get ahead — dramatically.
A new performing arts program slated to begin in September at Cowichan Secondary School will offer students significant credit for acting, dance and voice in a year-long rang of coursework and work credit designed for grades 9 to 12.
“The response has been overwhelming, there’s a tremendous response from students and in fact I’ve been contacted by a number of private school parents who said ‘Wow, if this flies then I’m coming back to public education,’” said CSS drama teacher Mike Moroz, adding that the new course has been made possible by innovative changes to the Ministry of Education’s curriculum set to begin this fall.
“They’re really encouraging innovation in terms of model delivery and they’re putting much more focus on finding ways for kids to explore their passions through interdisciplinary approaches to the teaching.”
Moroz noted other program pluses such as work experience recognition.
“We’re able to provide work experience in a way that we weren’t before. If you’re in the junior production in performing arts 9/10, we have you tech the 11/12 show and you wind up with work experience credit for having done so,” he explained as an example.
When combined with independent study, work experience and grad transitions students will be able to get 16-24 credits from the new course per year.
Students will do it all in the new program: singing, dancing, and acting, helping out and performing in school productions, taking part in talent shows and performance nights and being the leading edge of arts at CSS. This year CSS presented the Game’s Afoot, directed by Ros Roome and Moroz says the coming year’s production will hopefully be staffed by many students in the new course.
“We’re hoping to fill 50 to 60 spots in the first year. The goal is to start in September but it’s enrolment-driven like everything else,” he said.
Developed together with music teacher Kris Poole and dance teacher Roome, the changes are one-of-a-kind with nothing comparable offered on the island, according to Moroz.
Poole said he looks forward to helping students in the new program hone their melodic abilities, with the Addams Family and Little Shop of Horrors lined up as potential picks for next year’s CSS production.
“The process started maybe three years ago with Ros and Mike, but they approached me maybe February of last year to start putting together logistics,” said Poole, who’s in his fifth year teaching music at CSS. “They’ll get voice or choir credits as part of the three courses that are offered together,” he added.
Even for students who go on to different fields the new course teaches valuable skills, Moroz emphasized.
“Students may well come through our program and be highly-skilled and highly-successful, but then they go on to outstanding careers in other things,” he said. “If you’re in sales, if you’re in business, if you’re in education or law enforcement or nursing, the skills that you learn in performing arts are the skills you use every day. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin, taking risks, being willing to think outside the box. All of those things apply regardless of what profession you end up in.”