Any Given Child Offers Firsts for Juneau Students

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This November, all the second graders in the Juneau School District had the chance to visit the Shuká Hit, or the clan house in Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Walter Soboleff Building. There, they listening to storyteller Lily Hudson Hope and learned about Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian customs.

This is part of the ongoing Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child initiative, a community partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center whose goals include providing meaningful quality arts experiences for all Juneau School District students.

Juneau is one of 18 places the Kennedy Center works with around the country. The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and the Juneau School District act as the hosts and coordinating organizations, and have partnered with the Sealaska Heritage Institute, Perseverance Theatre and the Juneau Symphony to present arts excursions for the 2015-16 school year. 

Looking back at the Perseverance Theatre excursion to Othello, about half of the 8th students attending Shakespeare’s Othello had never seen a performance at the theatre, and about a quarter had never been to a live theatrical performance at all. Several were commenting following the show that they were “hooked” and planned to see future performances.

The Walter Soboleff Building excursion, considering it’s only been a year since its opening, obviously had fewer 2nd grade hands come up when they were asked if they had ever visited the center. The impact this visit had on these youngsters was huge though, with many asking questions about the traditions, stories and regalia of Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian culture. Faces were aglow when they walked in the clan house just after creating a replica of the glass house screen in their classrooms. 

In January, the Any Given Child will be partnering with the Juneau Symphony to present the third and final excursion of the 2015-16 school year. Like Perseverance Theatre, the Symphony has a long-standing history of offering educational performances for youth. This year, however, students will act as both the audience AND the performer!

Fifth grade students will be invited to sing along, or play along on their violins with the orchestra as they perform Copland’s Simple Gifts, or Dvorak’s “Going Home” melody featured in his New World Symphony. Students will also be treated to a performance by High School student, Trevar Fiscus, who won the JSO’s Youth Solo Competition back in June. 

The Any Given Child Juneau team is excited and proud of the partnerships built, and is working with other organizations to create excursions for more grade levels until we’ve reached all students. However, we need your help to make these impactful experiences a reality! Bring the gift of art to a child by making a contribution to our fundly campaign at: