By Marilyn Delk
School has begun for local students; this fact of life is met with joy, sadness, excitement, and/or fear by schoolkids – and their parents. Darke County Center for the Arts will happily be going back to school, too, continuing the Arts In Education program begun by educator William Combs in 1983; in the intervening 39 years, A.I.E. has touched the lives of thousands of youngsters who were inspired and entertained by the visiting artists.
The 2022-2023 Arts In Education series begins on Sept. 19, when a cappella quartet Fourth Avenue will perform throughout the following week for high school students in all local schools. Known for their incredible harmonies, outrageous humor, and high energy, Fourth Avenue has received many accolades and awards acknowledging the group’s artistic excellence during its twenty-five years of existence. The group has shared the stage with music icons like the Beach Boys and The Temptations while performing across the nation and around the world, including entertaining the crowds at Kings Island amusement park for five consecutive years. Known for their catchy beats and awesome harmonies, Fourth Avenue will perform selections from their diverse repertoire of pop, soul, R & B, gospel, and doo-wop while creatively interacting with their audiences, who will undoubtedly be having a really good time.
Canadian singer/songwriter Luke McMaster will bring his incredible talent to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Oct. 19 and 20 when he performs for Darke County and Greenville City junior high students. After earning initial success as half of musical duo McMaster and James with an album that went gold in 2002, McMaster has written songs for recording artists Nick Lachey and Rihanna, opened for singing star Brandi Carlisle, and toured and recorded with Grammy-nominated pianist Jim Brickman. Luke McMaster wil share insights into his passion for music which began when he was a high school student, urging the youngsters to follow his example of working hard to successfully fulfill dreams.
Fourth through sixth grade students will be treated to something entirely different when musher and educator Tasha Stielstra comes to their schools. A former elementary school teacher, Tasha is a sled dog racer who with her husband Ed owns Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Racing and Adventures in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Tasha’s interactive multi-media program “Pulling Together” is centered around the core values of being safe, kind, and responsible citizens, and features a live appearance by one of her adorable sled dogs while cheerfully teaching the art of teamwork.
Holiday fun will arrive early when DCCA’s Arts In Education program takes Cincinnati Children’s Theatre’s joyful production, Seussified Christmas Carol, to kindergarteners through third graders Dec. 5 through 9. Charles Dickens’ beloved story will be retold by four talented actors using the rhyming words of the equally beloved Dr. Seuss; from Ghosts of Past, Present, and Future to Timmy Loo Hoo, this festive holiday tale will wackily fill hearts with the joy of the season.
DCCA’s Arts In Education season will creatively bring excitement and fun to cultural enrichment, exemplifying the organization’s mission. These valuable programs are presented at no cost to the students, and receive funding from Ohio Arts Council, Darke County Endowment for the Arts, DCCA memberships, and local schools, as well as local foundation, corporate, and individual supporters. To learn more, contact DCCA at 937-547-0908 or www.darkecountyarts.org.