First-of-its kind school in Jordan District celebrates grads with mobile music lab

May 31, 2022, 9:46 PM | Updated: Jun 1, 2022, 10:57 am

SALT LAKE CITY — A new kind of school in the Jordan School District is celebrating completing its first year of an innovative program, that the district has never offered to students before.

They’re marking the success with a special send-off project for the sixth graders.

On Tuesday morning, a group of students sat inside a refurbished school bus parked behind Majestic Elementary School, steadily beating drums while looking at music notes on a poster in the front.

Instead of traditional seats, benches lined the inside of the bus, allowing students to sit facing each other while they played. Their hands hit to a rhythm that went with the phrase, “Pha-ses of the moon.”

The kids were learning about astronomy through music, with each moon phase marked by a different set of musical notes.

It’s an example that their homeroom teacher, Angus Douglas, said shows how most classes at the school look to use different ways to use arts to teach common core in the classroom.

“We get to come out and show them how art can influence their education,” he said.

Majestic Elementary became the first-of-its-kind, arts-focused school in the Jordan School District last fall. Douglas explained that teachers are going through arts endorsement classes for the public arts academy. They also reach some of the district’s most vulnerable kids.

“There’s 65% of them that are Title I or low socio-economic levels, and so this is giving them the opportunity and access to art tools that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” he said.

After a lesson on phases of the moon through music, his sixth-grade students exited the bus and traded drumbeats for paint strokes.

The outside of the bus was painted in an ever-so-light blue, and the kids added a blast of bold colors in the form of flowers, kids playing instruments, and abstract shapes all around.

The sixth graders were painting the bus as a sort of goodbye gift to the school, Douglas said.

He said the bus will travel to different schools around the district next year, in hopes of drawing students to attend Majestic Elementary. Douglas said the school is open to all who want to enroll there.

Sixth grader Valeria Rojas said she loves art and finds that she can express her feelings as she draws and paints. She said she wanted the bus to convey the feeling of happiness to other students.

“I hope that they think that they’re going to have fun,” she said, of when kids see the mobile music bus.

As part of the arts academy’s first graduating class, Valeria is leaving behind a colorful legacy while learning one, last lesson — how to make an impact on, “the kids next year, to have a chance to do this too.”

“This is a really important way to show that they are important and that they do have a voice,” Douglas said “And that the work that they do is going to influence other people.”

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First-of-its kind school in Jordan District celebrates grads with mobile music lab