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Crosswinds Arts and Science School hosted an Arts Night where both visual arts, theater and the school’s Main Stage students showcased what they have been working on this year. (Staff photos by Amber Kispert-Smith)

Harnessing creativity at Crosswinds

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Harnessing creativity at Crosswinds
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When Perpich Center for Arts Education took over control of Woodbury’s Crosswinds East Metro Arts and Science School last fall, it didn’t take long for the two organizations to truly realize the “arts” in their names.


Crosswinds held Arts Night on April 29 where theater, Main Stage and visual arts all showcased what the students have accomplished this year.

Band and orchestra performed on April 24.

During the Arts Night, visual arts students had their art on display for visitors to admire before heading into the school’s auditorium to watch the Mainstage students perform and witness the theater students showcase a number of dramatic scenes and monologues.

Tapping into creativity

Throughout this year, Crosswinds students have been able to experience a plethora of artistic options, whether that is a specific area of visual arts, music through band, orchestra or Main Stage, which is guitar and songwriting, or bringing drama to life through theater.

“Art makes students more well-rounded; it makes them better people,” said Cornelius Rish, Crosswinds theater director

Through involvement with theater, students have not only written their own scenes and monologues, but they have learned its fundamentals – movement, voice and objective.

In Rebecca Bullen’s visual arts classes, students explored a number of different mediums – animation, ceramics, drawing, sculpture and painting – but with an individual twist.

“We have our standards that we have to teach to, but through that process we’re also looking at how students can be risk takers,” she said. “Not everyone is doing a cookie cutter project because the art is driven by what’s the best fit for the students.”

When it comes to music, Crosswinds students had the choice between band, orchestra or Main Stage, where students learn how to play guitar and how to write music.

“You put a bunch of sensors on someone’s head when they’re making music and their brain will light up in a way that is very special,” said Crosswinds orchestra teacher Todd Weinhold.

Main Stage, which is a new class this year, offers unique opportunities for students, teacher Kyle Manley said, because it gives them free reign.

“Anyone can sort of play a cover,” he said, “but to be able to write words and chords for an original song can be a challenging thing.”

Finding benefit in art

Having so many different options for students to be involved in the arts at Crosswinds has proven to be beneficial for students, Manley said.

“It’s the power of choice,” he said.

Weinhold and Bullen said the multiple arts offerings allow students to explore.

“It’s a lot about finding their voice and finding what they most connect to,” Bullen said. “It’s about where they can be successful.”

Rish said being involved in the arts can help students find themselves.

“They get to explore and find themselves as artists,” he said. “It allows the students to discover the artists in them.”

All of Crosswinds’ arts teachers agree that seeing their students grow has been the most rewarding part of the school year.

“It’s amazing to see them progress from being the quiet mouse to now you can’t sit them down,” Rish said.

“There’s that shift between being somewhat insecure in themselves and that feeling of ‘I really can do this and I can be successful,’” Bullen said, “and that attitude trickles into their other classes.”

The teachers agreed that the recent music and arts nights at Crosswinds have really celebrated what students have been able to accomplish this year.

“It’s a celebration of their progress and their achievements,” Weinhold said. “My goal always is that when students walk out on that stage, they are so proud of what they’re about to do and they leave that stage just gleaming.”

Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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