A power drill nails two wooden planks together. Sparks fly, and the mechanical sound of the tool blares through the room. The face of a pigtailed seventh grader is then revealed, as she pushes back her welding helmet to admire her work.
After Hours Arts, or AHA, offers after-school enrichment programs to middle-schoolers once a week for one or two semesters, depending on the class. The courses—Spins, Sing!, Studio and Hammertime for dance, singing, improv, and stage tech respectively—allow younger students to experiment with the arts without them having to make a big commitment. Because each class only meets one day out of the week, students can take multiple AHA classes or involve themselves in other extracurricular activities, such as sports.
“I can’t speak specifically [for] Upper School students,” English instructor and Studio instructor Brett Quimby said, “but it’s my understanding that for the most part, the kids who are interested in sort of doing performing arts in the Upper School are already involved in it somehow.”
Participation in AHA varies every year. Incoming seventh graders are notified of this opportunity the summer before school, and AHA instructors visit middle-school class meetings early in the year. This year about 45 students are involved, Sing! being the class with the highest enrollment.
Every year, students in each AHA class are given an opportunity to showcase their skills. In the fall, Spins students have the option to perform in the All-School Dance Concert. Later in the year, the girls in Sing! perform at the Winter Choral Concert. Studio participants put on a lunchtime performance that students and faculty are welcome to attend. Finally, Students of Hammertime, along with other “techies,” coordinate the behind-the-scenes proceedings, including lighting and curtain calls, for the All-School Play, the All-School Dance Concert and All-School Meetings.