Yes, This Will Be On the Test

Writing, Reading, Laughing

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Writer Goes to Washington, D.C. - Part 4

I was in D.C. for an arts in education conference put on by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. I have been part of a marvelous program for the past six years sponsored by the Kennedy Center that trains teachers to bring arts integration into the classroom. 

As a writer, former actor and designer, I believe the arts are the lifeblood of education. If you want a child to be engaged in their learning, filter it through music, dance, puppetry, visual arts, mime, poetry, acting - I could go on and on. I've seen it work first hand with students from kindergarten through college.

I had never been to the actual Kennedy Center. On this trip, I was fortunate to finally see it.


It is truly a grand place with many theaters and a concert hall. The walls and even ceilings are covered with gorgeous art. 

A section of the mural on the ceiling of the Israeli lounge 

A Matisse tapestry

Painting in the Russian lounge

The biggest thrill for me was being able to see a show at the Kennedy Center. And not just any show - THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Many decades ago I was in a national tour of the same show that originated from the Los Angeles Music Center. It was super nostalgic and heartwarming for me to see it again and relive treasured memories. I was surprised when I remembered every one of my lines and could have said them along with the cast. 

For your dining and dancing pleasure, here are a few pix from my days as Louisa Von Trapp.

Ahh, the sailor suits. 

Werner Klemperer of HOGAN'S HEROES fame was our Uncle Max. He was a wonderful man and I adored him. William Katt of THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO fame played Rolf, nice guy gone Nazi in the production. Also a super fellow - pun intended.

Long live the arts in education!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Writer Goes to Washington, D.C. - Part 3

And speaking of Hamilton...

The guy is all over D.C.

At Mount Vernon

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

The National Portrait Gallery

Couldn't resist

Isn't it amazing someone who was unfairly not much more than a mental footnote in our history lessons is now a super star!

There are HAMILTON clubs at junior high and high schools. Kids are drawing fan art of Alexander Hamilton and other characters from the show. I've heard raps ala HAMILTON on a myriad of historical figures by students who are invested in learning history. A must read is the amazing YA novel, Alex and Eliza, A Love Story by Melissa De La Cruz on our hero and his love. 

Alex and Eliza

I've been listening to the score since the day it came out. I do a really good George III.

In a few weeks, I will FINALLY get to experience the show.

History has its eyes on you, indeed!

Any other HAMILTON aficionados out there? Have you seen it? 

If you haven't seen the PBS special on the making of HAMILTON - you're in for a treat. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Writer Goes to Washington, D.C. - Part 2

Another stop on my "never seen it before" Washington, D.C. trip was Mount Vernon - you know, the ole Washington place.

Officially wowed! The sense of history is palpable and the grounds ain't too shabby either. 

I might exercise more if I could get my steps in looking at scenery like this. Not a bad view from the back porch either!

I enjoyed super delish peanut and chestnut soup at the Mount Vernon Inn restaurant where I met a tour guide for the "Enslaved Persons" tour. Her expertise and passion for that piece of history inspired me to take the tour. I learned more during that hour than in all the classes I've ever taken on American history. The insight to the individuality of each enslaved person who lived at Mount Vernon was enlightening and thought provoking. It saddens me that history is taught in schools far too often as dates and events. It should be told as the story of the people who created and experienced those dry facts and data.

Lin Manuel Miranda got it right when he gave us HAMILTON! 

At the end of the tour we stopped at the enslaved persons memorial. 

I was fortunate enough to take place in a memorial service and read the biography of one of the Mount Vernon slaves as a remembrance. At the end of the reading of the biographies, a musician played the fife. When he finished he looked up and saw that the leader of the school group attending the memorial was someone he knew. He invited the man up to sing. 

I have never heard a richer, more soulful voice in my life. The tour guide sang "Let My People Go." When he finished the forest was silent. Tears were streaming down everyone's face, including the sassy group of teens he'd brought to Mount Vernon.

I went to Mount Vernon for history, and left with a spiritual experience. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A Writer Goes to Washington, D.C. - Part 1

I hang my head in shame. It's been a bazillion years since my last post. I'm happy to say I've been very productive in the writing realm - more irons in the fire. Whirlwind changes with ye olde day job - elementary education - slurped up the rest of my time like a shop vac. 

I'm dedicated to blowing the dust off my poor neglected blog and rejoining the conversation. I've missed you, beloved blogosphere. 

 This summer, I had the privilege to travel to Washington, D.C. for an arts in education conference sponsored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

(Is it me or does George look like he just finished a fabulous musical number?)

Aside from the conference I tried to visit places I'd never been before in the nation's capital. First stop - The Library of Congress - Jefferson Building. It knocked my socks off! I planned to spend an hour or so, but left five hours later. First of all, the building is gorgeous. Architecture, ornamentation, decoration, content - all yummy! 

Famous Reading Room

Publisher's Mark - the walls are covered with these!

My biggest thrill was being able to stand in the middle of Thomas Jefferson's library.

I have to admit, I got a little weepy being in the presence of such a magnificent literary collection by someone who revered and adored books.

"I cannot live without books."
Thomas Jefferson, June 10, 1815

As a person who writes books, and introduces the next generation to a love of books through teaching...
...I get you Tom!

Definitely put the Library of Congress on your D.C. "to do" list!