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Visit from South African music group, Minnesota Orchestra provides ‘Spark Experience’ for elementary students

Visit from South African music group, Minnesota Orchestra provides ‘Spark Experience’ for elementary students

Harriet Bishop and Hidden Valley Elementary schools had the exciting opportunity to have the 29:11 International Exchange, a South African music group, and members from the Minnesota Orchestra visit their schools this month.

A districtwide, fourth-grade field trip to Orchestra Hall scheduled for late February resulted in the Minnesota Orchestra reaching out to Rachel Lucius, Pathways and Advanced Learning Coordinator, to see if schools were interested in having the choir and orchestra groups visit them prior to their Orchestra Hall experience.

choir performing at assembly

Lucius answered back with a resounding yes! 

“It was so wonderful to have students attend assemblies where they were able to participate by singing and dancing!” said Lucius. “These two concerts were some of the most engaging visiting artist performances I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait for all of our 4th-grade students to experience this powerful music at Orchestra Hall.”

Alongside a dedicated team from across the district, Lucius is working hard to implement and improve the Elementary Pathways program. As a former elementary music teacher, she understands the value of increasing access to enrichment experiences in specialist areas like digital learning, music, physical education and visual art.

‘Sparking curiosity and wonder in each student’ is the driving force behind Pathways at the elementary level in District 191. It's about allowing students to discover a world of possibilities through rich learning experiences. Opportunities for this type of interaction are found throughout the school day, and one example is the district’s specialists coming together to provide the “Spark Experiences” for students.

Some examples of “Spark Experiences” include students visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Minnesota Orchestra Hall, participating in the 5th-grade all-district track meet and collaborating with their classmates in the “Amazon Future Engineer” experience, where students learn how computer science, engineering and people work together to fulfill customer orders. Students then replicate that process by designing a course and programming their own Dash Robot to simulate a robot processing orders at an Amazon Fulfillment Center.

29:11 International Exchange’s mission to facilitate hope and reconciliation through music, cross-cultural collaboration and individual artist development. 29:11 has no political or religious agenda. Its universal message is centered around the ancient African concept of Ubuntu. Ubuntu roughly translates to "humanity to others," meaning recognition that a person is who they are because of others. 29:11 uses music in a variety of ways to inspire and cultivate Ubuntu, one group at a time.