Stephanie Bloom, Head of Middle School
Dear Middle School Families,
As early as Nursery school Bernard Zell students begin to perform in front of an audience. They start as whirling dreidels in our Hanukkah Music Festival and spin on to speaking at their first grade Shabbat program and then participating in group presentations across Lower School. In 5th grade, as students cross over to Middle School, they boldly read from the Torah for the first time and perform in the band or the choir. In Middle School, our fine arts grow through vocal music, instrumental performance and performing arts! In addition, so does the frequency of public speaking opportunities across content areas. From our youngest students on, we seek to build confidence beyond the walls of the classroom- on a set, in a music room, painting at an easel or on our Field of Dreams. As we watch as parents, in what feels like an instant, our once shy Nursery students quickly become the stars of our 8th grade Operetta.
The Operetta is a long-standing pillar of the 8th grade year that began 65 years ago. While traditionally our community gathers to enjoy the show and kvell over our students together, more recently COVID called on us to be flexible in how we envisioned and delivered the Operetta. In 2020, Brandon Becker, our Director of Performing Arts, pivoted Frozen Jr. to a recorded soundtrack just weeks before opening night when the pandemic sent us home. In the spirit of “the show must go on,” Mr. Becker and the arts team produced films for our 7th grade play and Operetta as the pandemic continued to prevent us from gathering in 2021.
Last weekend, the class of 2022 returned Operetta to the stage with their performances of Shrek Jr. Since 2008, this beloved tale of friendship has encouraged us to embrace what uniquely makes each individual special. Adorned in colorful and fairytale-like costumes, the class of 2022 told its' story through song, dance and performance.
Leading up to the performance, students participated in tech week. Unique to our Middle School, student schedules shifted completely for a week while they all played multiple roles in the production. They tried on various theater hats: set design, stage crew, sound, lighting, costumes and makeup to name a few! Perhaps what shone brightest in the show’s finale was how the grade came together to work as a team.
Our Middle School’s commitment to the arts makes us uniquely special at Bernard Zell. Every Middle School student creates as an artist, learns an instrument and had the opportunity to sing, dance and act. As a vital part of our daily schedule, our fine arts program builds character, kehilla (or community) and confidence in our students. When our students perform they shine as individuals and collectively as a class. While the class of 2022 had fewer performance opportunities during the pandemic, their resilience, determination and commitment to each other resulted in a standing-ovation-worthy Operetta! If you didn’t have a chance to attend a performance of Shrek, we’ll soon be posting a recording in the coming weeks and hope that you’ll take in the show from the comfort of your own home!
Head of Middle School