Through new schoolwide initiatives already underway and exciting plans for the coming school year, Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities is committed to providing students a world-class education and training for success in the competitive landscape of the arts.
Broad Ripple’s administrators and staff work tirelessly to create an environment that supports students as they develop mastery skills in their major area of study and prepare for post-secondary success. For students majoring in performing arts, this means countless hours of practice as they work toward yearly competitions and eventually college auditions. The Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) Solo and Ensemble Contest is the height of the year for many performers in our Hoosier state; students spend most of the school year preparing solos and small group pieces to be judged at district and state-level competitions.
This year, 21 soloists and two ensembles represented the Broad Ripple Choral Department at district competition; 20 soloists and both ensembles won gold medals. At the state level, all Broad Ripple performers won gold! Broad Ripple’s choirs are now preparing for ISSMA Organizational Festivals this spring. Between competitions, school concerts and a variety of civic and community events, the Broad Ripple Choirs perform 40-50 times per school year. It keeps Director Denise Johnson busy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m a Broad Ripple grad,” said Johnson, “so to come back and realize it as a teacher, seeing it on the other side and doing what I love to do… I wake up every morning and can really say ‘I love my job.’ I’m in a great place!”
Participation in ISSMA competition is booming among Broad Ripple’s band students.
“My first year here, we had seven students go to Solo and Ensemble,” said Head Band Director Tom Ewigleben. “The next year we had 23, then 54…this year, we took 120 students to district competition!”
Ewigleben credits the rise in participation to the IPS-only solo and ensemble competition ISSMA holds each year for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. Every Broad Ripple middle school band student participates in the annual event. Broad Ripple is also proud to have the only IPS jazz band to compete in ISSMA organizational festivals – the jazz band won gold medals the last two years, and competes again in March.
Broad Ripple’s Theatre Department is active as well; you can catch their work on stage this weekend in Seussical the Musical. Theatre teacher Tonya Wilkison uses her connections in Indy’s theatre community to bring unique experiences to her classroom through local professionals. Students have enjoyed masterclasses in makeup, directing and more. One of her current classes is studying puppetry, and will have a visit next week from one of the actors from Footlite Musicals’ upcoming production of Avenue Q for a chance to experience professional-level stage puppetry.
Principal Dr. Briant Williams is excited about the future of Broad Ripple; last fall, the Board of School Commissioners approved a reconfiguration plan allowing Broad Ripple to phase out middle grades as the new Edison School of the Arts expands the elementary arts programming through 8th grade. As the focus shifts to a true high school setting, Broad Ripple will debut block scheduling next year, allowing students and teachers to spend more time per day on each subject area by reducing the number of class periods.
“When you have rehearsal time in an arts school’s schedule, you need more than 45 minutes a day,” said Dr. Williams. “This allows us to dig in and be much more intentional with our instruction.”
Students in advanced arts groups will meet with their respective ensembles at the same time each day, allowing for the development of a true symphony orchestra – combining the school’s top wind, string, percussion and choral students to study advanced works of music.
“My vision is to create an environment where students are more engaged and involved for a true collegiate feel,” said Dr. Williams.
This is only the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Broad Ripple; we’ll continue to highlight new initiatives and successes as the Rockets continue to achieve!