Drama, Arts & Music
SJK offers a full arts program for students of all ages. Each spring the School hosts an annual Arts event designated 'Arts Around Us' highlighting the work and talents of music, drama and visual arts students.
Each year the Upper School performs at least one major drama production. Performances take place at significant theatre venues in the area such as the University of Waterloo's Theatre of the Arts or the River Run Centre in Guelph. Over the past few years, the Upper School has produced such plays as Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet, by acclaimed Canadian playwright and novelist Ann-Marie MacDonald, The Laramie Project, and The Crucible. This year's production was Thornton Wilder's Our Town. The Lower and Middle Schools also regularly stage full productions such as The Wizard of Oz and The Pirates of Penzance. On occasion, larger productions are staged that involve the entire school community, such as our 2003 production of the musical Oliver.
In the Upper School, dramatic arts courses are offered at all grade levels, and visits to Stratford and other professional theatres as well as workshops with groups such as Toronto's Canadian Stage Company and visiting artists are important elements of the program. Our improv team has competed in the Waterloo Regional Improv Games, and our senior students take part annually in the Conference of Independent Schools' Drama Festival.
SJK offers visual arts instruction at all grade levels. Through curriculum courses at all levels, students have many opportunities to develop strong technical skills, experiment with a wide variety of media and develop a sense of aesthetics. Students are encouraged to think laterally and work creatively in a supportive environment where risk is part of the process of wondering "what if.". Visual arts study offers students at SJK the opportunity to explore and develop the right side of the brain - expressively and intellectually.
For students who do not study visual art but still wish to participate in extra-curricular visual arts activities, there are opportunities to assist with poster design work for School events, set design and painting in conjunction with a drama production, mural painting or the creation of one-of-a-kind art objects used in School fundraising events.
Student art work is proudly exhibited throughout the School, and more formally in annual exhibits including the Arts Around Us event held each spring.
SJK music classes, private music lessons, and extracurricular musical ensembles provide students with a well-rounded music education.
Lower School music classes are based on the Orff philosophy of movement, rhythm, singing and playing Orff instruments (pitched and non-pitched percussion). In the junior grades students start reading standard music notation as they learn to play the recorder. All students in Senior Kindergarten, Grade One, and Grade Two are members of the Primary Choir. Junior Choir consists of Grade Three, Grade Four, and Grade Five volunteers. Both choirs have received awards as have the Grade Four and Five recorder classes.
Students in Middle School continue singing and begin to play band instruments. The MIDI Lab is available to Middle and Upper School students and is fitted with Sibelius 5 music notation software. The lab is used to train students in music theory, aural skills and composition and can be connected to the school's new disklavier. The newly-formed Chalmers Singers, named after our school's founding headmaster Jim Chalmers, won a Kiwanis scholarship in 2009, and perform annually at Canada's Wonderland Trills and Thrills Festival.
Upper School students have the opportunity to continue with both vocal and instrumental music. Students in Upper School music classes recently participated in the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra's Design a Concert program at Centre in the Square. The Kilmarnock Singers and the auditioned Madrigal Singers participate in the Waterloo Region High School Choral Festival at Centre in the Square, and in the Conference of Independent School's Music Festival at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.
Private piano, voice, organ, and violin lessons are available at the school for interested students. These soloists are frequent recipients of Kiwanis scholarships and awards, and are prepared for conservatory examinations.
Every Christmas each of SJK's choirs is featured in the singing of the traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols in the school's beautiful chapel building complete with 1953 Casavant organ, and two Yamaha grand pianos, one of which is a disklavier.
SJK has welcomed guest choirs from around the world to perform for the student body and the wider SJK community. Past visiting ensemble have included the Vancouver Chamber Choir, the Sankt Annae Youth Choir from Copenhagen, Denmark (revisiting Thanksgiving 2009), the Kitchener-Waterloo Philharmonic Youth Choir, TACTUS Vocal Ensemble, the all-professional St. John's Parish Choir, Elora, as well as brass and woodwind quintets from the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra.