Art in the Classroom

Artists in residence Kevin Earlywine and Jacqueline DeGraff of the Dakota Players last week conducted workshops with Blunt and Onida elementary students dedicated to the idea that drama is an integral part of the human experience.

"My class loved the presentation," said Blunt grades 3-5 teacher Randy Pool. "I asked my students what they thought of the presentation and to sum it up, ‘It was awesome!!’"

Earlywine says that the Dakota Players focused on team building workshops through theater. "We gave an overview of what theater is since some students have had no exposure to what it’s like to be an actor."

The Dakota Players delved into what it’s like to work as a team in theater and did team building exercises.

"It was cool to see different groups navigate becoming better collaborators," said Earlywine.

Kindergartner Adrianna Hill said that her "whole class loved them, and I loved them." With a joyful shout, Renlee Buhler added it was "fun!" and decided "the ‘frog detective’ was the best part." Classmate Houston Kenworthy agreed that it was "super fun," and that they got to "play games."

Houston, along with his brother Jackson, a second grader, hopes "they get to come back again."

"They were really nice, and it was a lot of fun," Jackson continued. Also second graders, Bretton Barber’s favorite activity was ‘building a story,’ and Hudson Barber enjoyed participating as a character. Henry Buhler thought the whole week was "awesome."

In the first grade classroom, Payson LaRosh’s favorite activity was ten second builds where they got to build things for ten seconds out of people. Josie Sovell adds, "We played games, and used our bodies to build stuff." Justice Sovell notes, "We made castles and houses and frogs, and I was the eyeball."

"It was cool how they were actors because it inspired people," said Ally Buhler, a fourth grader. "They talked about being a team," she added. Bryson LaRosh declared the workshops "good," and said that "some people got to play games that looked really fun."

Sisters third grader Jaycee Jaeger and fifth grader Jaydn Jaeger both liked the Art in the Classroom activities. They thought it was fun and very informative, how they taught the groups to act out different situations.

Brothers kindergartner Grayson Moore and second grader Easton Moore thought the Dakota Players were fun.

Pool points out that the students in Blunt are "really into the whole drama thing. They create and perform little plays in Ms. Bourk’s language classes." Pool says that the Dakota Players encouraged "them to continue doing the writing and performing. They actively engaged them for the 2 1/2 hours they were with them."

Earlywine found working with "smaller groups of classes who grow up together and spend every day together" unusual and interesting. He says he encouraged them to "encourage each other and to navigate differences in communicating."

A last day of the residency activity that Earlywine says the students enjoyed was the game minefield. "Working in pairs, the ‘leader’ verbally helped the ‘follower,’ who had their eyes closed, navigate the classroom without bumping into any of the chairs that were set about as obstacles," said Earlywine. "It was the culmination of a week of working together and building trust with each other and communicating with each other. It opened their eyes to working with people that they don’t work with every day."

Artists in residence inspire participants to learn more, not just about art, but life itself. Art in the Classroom is funded in part by the South Dakota Arts Council.

The Dakota Players had a "great week" working with a "great group" that was "a lot of fun."