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Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. August 2018

Arts Ed NJ is proud to present the August BEAT, a feature of New Jersey’s preeminent arts education happenings. From the NJSDL to summer professional development, this month’s beat offers a proper send-off to the final weeks of Arts Ed Summer.

Partner Spotlight: New Jersey Speech & Debate League


While high schoolers change sports across seasons, those who compete with the New Jersey Speech & Debate League are three-season speakers. From September to June, the NJSDL presides over twelve local competitions and offers students the chance to compete at prestigious national tournaments, including the National Speech & Debate Tournament and the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament. In many ways, the New Jersey’s league is unique for its incredibly tight-knit community. Across the United States, most leagues cover only a certain city or state district, yet the single, unified New Jersey League brings competitors together irrespective of school with pride to compete singularly for New Jersey.

The NJSDL season has two phases: development season and championship season. From September to February, students compete both locally and nationally at major college campuses including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Nova Southeastern with the aim to develop their pieces and presence for the later season. By March, the schedule spaces out with leveled championships. The State Championship, held at Hunterdon Central, hosts about 300 competitors, and winners in the fifteen varsity categories also win a Governor’s Award in Arts Education. Students then set their sights nationally, as they attend the District Championships to qualify to the National Tournaments, the Tournament of Champions, and the National Tournaments.

Despite its size, New Jersey’s league is incredibly dominant, arguably ranking in the top seven leagues across the United States. At each National Tournament, New Jersey had at least one finalist, a competitor who reached the top six out of hundreds in their category, each of whom had qualified out of even larger districts. Still, the largest accomplishment of the NJSDL’s 2017-2018 season came at the National Speech & Debate Tournament held by the National Speech & Debate Association, or NSDA. The competition, recognized as the largest academic tournament in the United States, hosts over 3,000 competitors from almost every state and U.S. territory.

To qualify for the NSDA National Tournament is regarded as one of the highest possible honors in competitive speech & debate, but to reach the finals or even win is a lifelong dream for leagues. New Jersey, in its time-honored tradition, achieved that dream with three competitors. Before they could reach the final round, these competitors spoke in thirteen preliminary and elimination rounds. Competitive pools of roughly 220 to 300 students, the best speakers & debaters from across America, were whittled down to a mere six. In Commentary, Kevin Mao of Montville High School placed third as just a sophomore. His final topic was to analyze the Tet Offensive, its significance and history. In United States Extemporaneous Speaking, Christopher Maximos from Delbarton School placed third for the second time. Christopher discussed President Trump’s influence on the GOP in the midterm elections in front of nearly 3,000 audience members. Finally, Kimberly Lee, a previous NJGAAE winner, rose to the top as the National Champion in Dramatic Interpretation. Kim’s performed the narrative of an adopted Korean soldier who explored her biological mother’s history as a World War II comfort woman.

At the core of each of these competitors success was the incredible support and coaching of the New Jersey Speech & Debate League. NJSDL’s District Chair, Mary Gormley of Montville High School, was recognized as the National Educator of the Year for Speech & Debate. Martin Page of Delbarton School was recognized with his first diamond, an honor that recognizes five years of coaching and merit points, which correspond to his students’ success. The New Jersey Speech & Debate League values its culture of collaboration, encouraging renowned coaches to partner with smaller programs, as to mentor them and their competitors. This mixture of distinguished leadership with a focus on partnership has provided the New Jersey Speech & Debate League with a storied legacy. As the League welcomes promising programs and competitors, it seems its future is even brighter than its past.

Guest Blog – Summer Discovery: The Role of Community Arts in Completing Arts Education

From a young age, I was fortunate to have an arts experience all-year round. As the school year bled into summer, my community, Randolph, seemed to light up with open-air concerts and theater. These concerts, which gave young classical, jazz, and even, reggae artists across Morris County the chance to display their musical talent, and despite their small scale, offered dimension to my arts experience with real-life exposure to styles that my music classes only identified. As summers passed, I became inspired to pursue the violin. I, too, envisioned myself playing behind Randolph Library to the adoring applause of fellow community members. Eventually, I had the chance to perform at a Randolph Summer Pops Concert with a classical quartet. As I looked out into the audience, this fledgling musical journey came full circle. Almost everywhere I looked, I saw a group of equally enthralled elementary school students, commencing their own exploration of music.

In addition to music, I developed as an artist, an actor, and a person through community theatre. With a mere 108 seats, the Brundage Park Playhouse felt almost incalculably enormous. Our full-stage productions of Aladdin, The Sound of Music, and Alice in Wonderland inspired my stage presence, and when I could look out to an audience and see the same townspeople with whom I went to school with, the library with, and even summer concerts with, I felt secure enough to perform authentically. At the end of each summer, we organized a Kid’s Cabaret, a medley of songs and skits that explored themes universal to Randolph youth: growing up, the high school experience, and pop culture. With summer theater, I felt proud to live in a town that valued its performers and embraced the chance to be entertained.

These two arts opportunities fundamentally changed my life. Community art gave depth to the breadth of my school arts experience. It forced me to practically explore what it meant to create and perform. Still, I understand that these opportunities simply do not exist in most communities across New Jersey. That’s why Arts Ed Summer is so fundamentally important. It creates a network of events and professionals that can keep arts education alive even as the school year ends. This flurry of shows, exhibitions, and concerts can offer the same self-discovery, the same educational development to students across New Jersey. You, too, can get involved by telling your story on Arts Ed Now’s website (www.artsednow.org), adding your event to the map of New Jersey’s summer arts projects, and getting social with the #artsednow hashtag. Please, contribute to Arts Ed Summer, and offer a holistic arts education to students this summer.


Written By: Christopher Maximos

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. July 2018

This summer, Arts Ed Advocates all over the NJ are gearing up to launch “Arts in Education Week” Sept 9-15 (and throughout September) Share what you are planning for Sept’s Arts in Education Week! – Use these Hashtags! #LetsDoMore #ArtsEdNow #ArtsEdSummer  #SeptReady @ www.artsednow.org

New Jersey Arts Integration Think and Do Workbook

The New Jersey Arts Integration Think and Do Workbook was created by New Jersey arts integration practitioners to provide their colleagues with tools and strategies to support the development of a robust arts integration practice. We harvested best practices from thought-leaders championing the arts integration movement across the state and nationally. It is a work in progress. We plan to test these materials and keep adding new content, so we invite you to share your feedback and favorite tools and become a part of the growing arts integration learning community.

Arts Integration Workbook 2018


BLOG: Introducing our Summer Communications Intern!

Hello, everyone! My name is Christopher Maximos, and I’m extremely excited to be NJ Arts Ed NJ’s new (and best) communications intern! I currently attend Delbarton School in Morristown, where I’ll be a senior this fall. At Delbarton, I participate in a variety of academic, political, and journalistic extracurriculars, but my central focus has been the arts. My experience in the arts dates back to my early childhood, when I wanted to be a Broadway actor: I would compel my parents and neighbors to watch long shows of me singing, dancing, and acting. Unfortunately, I was not a triple threat, and my passion for theater quickly manifested into a love for speech and debate. Over the past six years, I’ve competed at the national level in a variety of public speaking competitions, winning national titles and developing a stronger sense of confidence, argumentation, and presence. Now, as I prepare for the next chapter of my academic career, I’ve taken great steps to coach the younger members of our school’s team and have founded both my own podcast, Extempolitik, and my own educational initiative, teachspeech, to offer free, youth-centered curricular resources in public speaking. In my sophomore year, I was lucky enough to win my first Governor’s Award in Arts Education for my state championship in impromptu speaking. As I stood, surrounded by the states most talented artists, I finally grasped the importance of the arts advocacy organizations such as Arts Ed NJ, devoted arts teachers, and in the case of public speaking, the New Jersey Speech & Debate League. Every student, in the pursuit of a balanced education, should have the opportunity to learn and master an artistic discipline. My devotion in speech & debate has taught me to be a better student, but more importantly, a better person. I hope that in working with Arts Ed NJ, we can mobilize this amazing network of scholars, educators, and patrons to afford every student the opportunity to amplify their artistic voice.

Arts Ed Summer 2018

This summer, arts ed advocates all over the state are gearing up to launch “Arts in Education Week” Sept 9-15 (and throughout September)

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. June 2018

Ahhh June. The end of the school year. The exhilaration of completion.
The anticipation of summer to unwind, rejuvenate and plan for the next year!
In this issue we do the same. We are exhilarated by the very successful 2018 Governor’s Awards for Arts Education and the State Teen Arts Festival.
We unwind as we celebrate a new $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the ARTS ED NOW campaign for the 2018-2019 school year.
And we plan during ARTS ED SUMMER 2018 so we may all utilize Arts in Education week in September to continue to raise the bar for arts education across our state.
But before you join us in any of these activities… please use the link below to email your state legislative representatives to support increased funding for arts and cultural funding in our state.
By working together now and planning for the future we can make 2018-2019 the best year for arts education in New Jersey’s history!

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. May 2018

On Saturday April 28, 2018 the Star Ledger ran my guest editorial titled “The arts are as vital as math. Educators shouldn’t have to defend it.” This is part of the Arts Ed Now campaign efforts to increase visibility for arts education across the state. The same day our partner NJTV screened their documentary “I Can’t… I have Rehearsal” as part of the Montclair Film Festival.
We want to encourage everyone to use both the editorial and documentary as important tools in spreading the word about the importance of arts education for everyone.
Be sure to post, share (in newsletters and other materials) and disseminate to other advocates, parents, administrators and others who can make a difference for arts education in your communities.

Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. April 2018

Arts in Our Schools Month Recap
March was a very busy month for arts education across the state and all of us at Arts Ed NJ were happy to assist many of the groups across the state to promote arts education and the ARTS ED NOW Campaign. Here are some highlights:

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August 14, 2018
Arts Ed NJ’s THE BEAT. August 2018

Arts Ed NJ is proud to present the August BEAT, a feature of New JerseyR...