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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

School of arts for children adds to SL cultural impact

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

It's about singing, dancing and learning at the School of Arts for Children, an outreach program at the Lutheran Hispanic Outreach and Information Center in Storm Lake.

"It's a way for us to serve the community and it's also a way of helping Hispanic people maintain their culture," said Pastor Bo Brink, director of the center.

Instructor Caly Torres agreed. "They're able to learn about their culture as well as other Latin American traditions here," she said.

Performing is a central theme for both the children's program and the adult's program. "We want to make sure the kids have more than a few opportunities to be on stage," Brink said. "In Latin American there are a lot more events through the school year where kids are doing dramas, playing music, reading poetry, or even telling jokes.

"Performing is a much more integral part of Latin American schooling," he said. "You might have a 6th grader who is shy, but ask him to read a short poem on stage and he won't bat an eye."

Already students from the school have put on an Latino Independence Day program last month which featured many traditional songs and dances from several Latin American countries. Now they are preparing for a Christmas program on Dec. 16.

"That's why we want the school for arts," Brink said. "We don't want children to lose that sense of performance."

For the children, they often meet at the outreach center on the weekends. "The kids are often here on Saturdays and Sundays, doing dancing, drama or singing," Torres said.

There are no limits on what type of song or dance they may learn. "It's from any Latin American country," Torres said. "For the Christmas show, we're doing drama from Venezuela, but throughout the year we may learn music from Mexico and dance from El Salvador."

Children participating range from 5 to 16 years of age, and up to 20 may be participating at any time.

Torres, who has been teaching the children for seven months, said she enjoys the opportunity.

"It gives the kids something to do, and is an alternative activity," she said. "They have fun here. Learning this stuff does good things for them."

Along with the school for children, there is also a School of Music which focuses on Storm Lake's adult population. Lessons are available in guitar, bass guitar, drums and keyboards.

Students in this new music program learn from a mixture of contemporary romantic, Mariachi and Christian contemporary. The music they play is important to Hispanic culture. "In general it's a bigger facet of culture than in North American culture," Brink said.

Music is found everywhere - from a person's home to public transportation.

"When you're on a bus, it's part of traveling, listening to music full blast," Brink said. "People standing in the aisle will be dancing, too."

Torres said she and the students enjoy the chance to learn a new dance, song or drama and then be able to perform it.

"The kids put a lot of time into the programs and they enjoy being able to perform," she said.

And while the kids practice their drama in one room, the adults are in the other practicing their song.

"On my way to Bethlehem, on my little burro from the plains.

"On my way to Bethlehem, if you see me you know where I'm going."

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