stories about people and animals.
"Last week we learned how to spell words like 'cool' with our arms
and legs," said Ben, 8. "I got to be one of the 'O's'. It's awesome.
It's like math, because we count and stuff, too, but this is fun."
Glendale Community College dance instructor Phyllis Eckler has
visited Fremont every Tuesday this month to teach the students. She
begins each class by sitting the students in a circle and doing
stretching exercises to music, and students continue moving for more
than an hour. Students are in a constant flow of jumping, dancing,
clapping, singing and slapping the floor to the rhythm of each song.
Eckler is one of three artists in residence this year at Fremont
who participate in the Arts are Basic program. The program is funded
through an $85,000 Arts in Education Demonstration Project grant from
the California Arts Council.
The program has two purposes -- to bring professional artists into
participating schools to expose students to visual and performing
arts, and instruct teachers how to incorporate the arts into everyday
"This really opens up their creative juices," Eckler said. "It
shows them that dance and body movement doesn't have to be exactly
what they see on MTV. They can use shapes in nature to be creative
and express themselves."
Eckler brought in books with pictures of classic Greek sculptures
last week to illustrate for students different poses the body can
make to express thoughts or ideas.
"I like this because you get to move a lot," said Claire
Bonino-Britsch, 7. "We make waves and fish with our bodies, and
that's really different."
For 7-year-old Madison Gabor, the movement class has other
"There's no homework," Madison said. "There's really no work. It's
just like learning, but having fun."
Twenty Glendale schools are participating in the Arts are Basic
program this year, but next year is up in the air because of cuts in
the state budget, program grant coordinator Joyce Smith said.
"Glendale is rather unique," Smith said. "We have a list of
instructional minutes that should be devoted to arts, just like math
and science. One thing we get out of this program is that the artists
work with teachers so teachers get more comfortable using art in
Elementary school teachers in Glendale are expected to devote
between 100 and 130 minutes each week to arts curriculum that is
aligned to state standards, Smith said.