BPS 21st Century Explorers Program

Much of BCA’s emphasis in arts education over the past three years has been on developing a whole new approach and model for residencies, using the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program as a vehicle. This is an after-school whole-child education program with a significant arts component. Explorers residencies began three years ago with a contract for services with 5 schools in South County during the 2010-11 school year. This initiative is funded by 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grants (21st CCLC), a U.S. Department of Education initiative, and seeks to create safe learning environments for at-risk students during non-school hours.

Because of this successful experience, the program grew tremendously during the 2012-13 school year, which more than tripled the number of schools served the first two years, reaching more than 1,300 students at nineteen school sites and adding the “Family Art Nights” special events.

During 2012-13 BCA’s teaching artists instruction focused on integration of academic curriculum elements into the arts education activities. BCA’s coordinators and artists created and delivered a series of classes that connected Native American curriculum content with performing arts in a piece that uses contemporary music and dance techniques, as well essential elements of native ceremonial dances.

At each school, the students mastered and presented the performances based on Native American Ceremonial Dances, choreographed and taught by the BCA dance instructors, using the props which were created under the guidance of the BCA visual artists.

The dance performance with the props was conducted in the last week of the quarter as the concluding activity of the unit plan. It was performed in front of family, friends, and the school communities.

The performance is an essential element within a program intended to change participants’ perceptions about their own experiences in after-school care. For many of these children, staying at school after the end of the school day is a low point of their day. We tried to transform these perceptions through a positive learning experience that resulted in one of the highlights of the school year.

BCA is currently serving 17 schools and almost 1,400 students through 21st Century Learning Centers. During 2013-14, residencies’ instruction is centered on connecting performing arts and science, specifically the human body which is one the primary academic subjects this year.