The Arts Converge at Chicago Friends School

Ten minutes before dismissal today, I was down in my office in the basement when suddenly I heard footsteps clattering into my office. Renata poked her head in: “You are cordially invited to a musical mask march, upstairs, right now!”

Who could resist such an invitation, especially at the end of a long day?  

Upstairs our K-2 group was lined up in the hallway, each wearing the masks that they had been working on for the last three art classes.  The masks were fantastic, and each one an expression of the maker.  There was a character from Minecraft, a peregrine falcon, and my personal favorite, a blue and green snake mask that went all the way down the back of the student onto the floor.

In the fifth and sixth grade classroom, our grade 3-6 students were warming up on their Orff instruments. Parts for a march, composed twenty minutes before by their music teacher, were up on the white board. A quick lesson in marching to the beat followed, and the younger students marched in. The variety and color of their masks were in perfect counterpart to the sounds of the older students, each one of whom was contributing different beats and notes in musical coordination.  

It was Thursday afternoon, and the arts just came together to briefly unite the school, with each group of students adding to the overall celebration.

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Karen Carney

is the head of school. Karen’s career demonstrates a rich and diverse set of skills: project oversight, curriculum development, educator training and mentoring, and classroom instruction. Prior to coming to Chicago Friends School, she worked as a senior specialist in science curriculum for American Institutes for Research. Before this, she oversaw educational programming at the Adler Planetarium, first as its director of education and then as associate vice president for visitor experience and learning. She has also worked in instruction and teacher development at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Learning Sciences Research Institute and has authored more than 20 scholarly papers, book chapters, and conference presentations.

Karen is an active, dedicated Friend (Quaker) and has held various leadership positions at the Evanston Friends Meeting. She enjoys baking, cooking, and painting and is a member of the Playmation improv comedy team.

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