February 8 2011
Listen: For this week of Make Milwaukee, we're taking a look at creativity in our schools. This could be, like the entire creative campaign, an intractably large project. To solve this problem, we took a novel approach; rather than cherry-pick highlights from a range of schools, we're going into a single high school and going a bit more in-depth -- Ronald Reagan High School on the South Side.
Over the past two years of gathering stories for 88Nine, I've been fortunate enough get a look inside a wide range of schools in Milwaukee. And while the diversity of schools in our community never fails to astound me, one of the major constants I've found in these buildings is creativity. Walls covered in drawings and projects. Gyms and music rooms filled with dance and music. Behind the name of any school, there are young people teeming with creative sparks. So, we chose one of those buildings, one of those names, and explored the creativity inside -- you're invited.
The first stop on our trip into Reagan's creative community -- their Comprehensive Musicianship or Composition Technology class. Taught by composer and educator Adam Murphy, they do all sorts of neat stuff including messing around with loops, writing Gregorian chants, and other projects that made me feel a little jealous of his students.
Currently, they're working on an assignment named "You Control The Mood," a somewhat far-out project melding computer science (a new kind of science based in Cellular Automata) with writing études that are meant to evoke particular emotions. Pretty cool. I spent a morning with the class and had them spontaneously come up with a short skit to evoke the same emotion as their music:
I was quite impressed by these high school sophomores -- their études were really quality, and the fact that they indulged me with those impromptu performance? Pretty awesome.