Each of the Catholic schools in our diocese offer something unique and interesting to their communities. Today we catch up with Sister Kathryn Schlueter to learn about how Our Lady of the Hamptons School integrates fine arts into Catholic education for elementary students.
Emily Guarnieri – Our Lady of the Hamptons School has a lot to offer families. Of course, our Catholic Faith, S.T.E.M., is central for all students. But your school offers so much in the arts. Tell me more!
Sister Kathryn Schlueter – I am the principal of our school, but I was a former high school Music/Theatre teacher. Hence, the emphasis on the arts. Our Lady of the Hamptons and its philosophy truly hold that there is creative energy in every child and that aesthetics can enhance academics.
Our program that covers all 300+ students include a boys chorus, girls chorus, primary chorus, band, individual string and full orchestra, drama class, instruction in ballet, tap, and jazz. The faculty includes a Juilliard educated violinist, a professional guitarist, and two former professional dancers. I am also the after school drama teacher. One mandatory class each week….for all students in grades K-5 is a ballet class.
EG – Is this a handful of students, or a lot of students in these arts classes?
Sr. Kathy – Let me list them out. Ready?
- We have over 50 students in drama.
- Primary choir is nearly 25 students.
- Then we have Joyful Noise Choir with 50 plus students
- We have Hamptones girls choir, the Hamptonix boys choir.
- For dance, we have more than 80 students dancing, then another 35 students in ballet.
- For musical instruments, we have over 15 students learning guitar, almost 50 students at some stage of playing the violin.
I should say something about Jazz, but I’d overwhelm you.
EG – Impressive! Kids love to perform, to show the world what they are made of. Word on the street is that you have students competing and performing.
Sr. Kathy – Our children are ready to perform at the drop of a hat: singing at community events, local retirement homes, parish choirs…and presenting two full musicals each year. The Christmas musical features the entire school, while the after school drama, chorus and dance students present the spring musical.
The local TV station in South Hampton is often referred to as the “OLH Channel” since most of our performances are run frequently on the channel. In addition, each homeroom presents a full assembly program each year.
Competition tap teams are selected and rehearse during the summer and before school during the year. Violinists, piano players, and instrumentalists compete in NYSSMA, SCMEA conference festivals.
At OLH, we really try to incorporate the arts for everyone–struggling students and those whose attention may not be totally academic. This year: the top girl soloist in our chorus is a special ed student….and three of the very best drama kids have “classifications” for Sp Ed and services. Self-image is greatly enhanced when they succeed!
EG – What is “That’s Entertainment”? How did your school get connected with these competitions?
Sr. Kathy – Our Health / PhysEd teacher is a professional tap dancer who has connections with local and regional competitions. That’s Entertainment is one of the franchised competitions. It seemed like a good fit for us.
EG – Are you the only Catholic school represented?
Sr. Kathy – Yes. In fact, for the last five years, we are the only Catholic school competing almost exclusively amid area dance studios. People seem surprised when our teams show up and compete so well.
EG – Help me understand the Gold and Platinum Rankings. Also, you have a group moving on to the National Finals?
Sr. Kathy – The rankings, rather than 1st, 2nd, 3rd…are Platinum is 1st , Solid Gold is 2nd, and Gild is 3rd. Teams compete in age groups and ability levels. The four groups we entered this year earned Solid Gold and Platinum. The team that qualified for Nationals is also nominated as National Entertainer of the Year.
EG – The Catholic Church has embraced the arts throughout history. It’s obvious when you see the beautiful Cathedrals, sacred art, and when you listen to sacred music. How do you see Catholicism connecting with modern performing arts. I mean, we all love watching those competition TV shows, but I’ve never imagined a Catholic story woven into “America’s Got Talent,” shows like that.
Sr. Kathy – The arts program at OLH could indeed be a showcase for Catholic values and art. The Nativity each year is presented as a ballet. The Living Stations of the Cross incorporate liturgical dance as the prologue. The annual Seder meal presentation of the traditional foods is done in dance as is the Advent service.
Honestly, OLH is different because of the arts. We are up for Middle States reaccreditation and are hoping to get the designation as the first elementary school with Fine Arts distinction.
EG – Fantastic! I’ll have to schedule my next trip out to the Hamptons with one of those big shows!
Want to learn more about Our Lady of the Hamptons Catholic School?
Visit their website to learn more about their fine arts programs. You can also watch videos of the Hamptones, Hamptonix, Ballet, Drama, Band, Tap and Jazz students! You can also learn about the admissions process and schedule a school tour.
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