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Latin, art and drama students collaborate on Patriot Project

Meenu Bhooshanan, at left, and Becca Fraley show the Greek mask that they designed for the collaboration among Latin, drama and art classes in the Patriot Project. (CONTRIBUTED)
Meenu Bhooshanan, at left, and Becca Fraley show the Greek mask that they designed for the collaboration among Latin, drama and art classes in the Patriot Project. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Latin, art and drama students shared their skill-sets to collaborate on one of the first Patriot Project undertakings at Bob Jones High School.

The Patriot Project concept engages “students interacting outside of the norm and learning to be creative producers of knowledge — rather than passive consumers,” Bob Jones Assistant Principal Amy Thaxton said. “Students (can) explore and go far beyond what they would have learned in a traditional class.”

The Latin/art/drama collaboration grew from the Latin students’ assignment to deliver Greek and Roman monologues. “In the ancient world, actors would be responsible for making their masks” and interpret the individual character, Latin teacher Ray Congo said.

Pursuing a similar process, Congo’s students were encouraged “to think about these monologues on a deeper level. They had to identify with the character and determine what sort of personalities they might have,” Congo said.

After researching plays, Latin students zoomed into a character’s persona. “By performing monologues, students were encouraged to develop the character’s voice and emotions,” Congo said.

To convey those emotions, drama teacher Mary Davis engaged her students to consult with Latin students. The young actors conveyed delivery techniques to interpret a character presenting a monologue. A solo actor in a monologue cannot depend on the dynamics of dialogue.

Adding to authenticity, Latin students created masks, like those used in ancient Greek and Roman theatre. Art students assisted from Robin Lakso and Jennifer Norton’s classes. Latin students explained reasons for using masks and discussed the characters and their features.

“Art students helped to sketch what the masks would look like when completed,” Lakso said. Working in small groups, students prepared a glue and water mixture and then added newspaper strips for paper mache.

Next, they applied a layer of tissue paper to smooth the surface. Finally, they painted and embellished the masks, Lakso said.

The Patriot Project evolved from 2013’s “da Vinci Fridays,” when 12 teachers fostered cross-curricular work to give students a choice and voice in what they learn, Thaxton said.

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