By Paul Halloran
At a time when it is not uncommon to see schools decreasing offerings in the arts , Our Lady of the Assumption in Lynnfield is singing a different tune.
The Catholic school for students in grades pre-k through 8 has added band and choir this school year, with about 45 students participating. Both activities are offered once a week (on Monday) during the school day.
“The students leave class and go to band or choir,” said OLA Principal James Grocki. “We make sure there is no new material introduced in classes during those periods (band in the morning and choir in the afternoon).”
Not only is the school offering these musical opportunities, it is also providing a high level of instruction, with Tom Mangeum and Dr. Bobby Thorp. Mangeum is the cantor at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and music director at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury, while Thorp teaches music at OLA.
“We weren’t sure how it was going to go, but the kids have signed up and are enthusiastic about it,” Grocki said. “We have allotted two periods in the morning and two in the afternoon so there is room for the program to grow.”
In addition to offering band and choir for students in grades 3-8, OLA started a drama program last year for students in grades 5-8. Teachers Will Bachner and Eloise Gabriel coordinate the drama group, which stages a play in December and musical in the spring. Drama is an after-school activity for which students try out, Grocki said.
All OLA students take art and music once a week. Last spring, the school held its first fine arts night, at which students’ art work was showcased.
Grocki said OLA has the same number of students this year as last year – 316 – marking the first time enrollment has remained level in several years. He is hoping the expanded fine arts offerings will help in that regard.
“We understand the importance of the arts and what it adds to our school,” the principal said.