At Friendship Academy of FIne Arts: Building problem-solving, critical thinking skills with confidence and self-discipline

As parents we all have been, will be, or currently are faced with the big decision of which school makes the best fit for our children.

As parents we all have been, will be, or currently are faced with the big decision of which school makes the best fit for our children. With so many different choices available, what was once a very simple task has become a process so confusing and frustrating that you can be made to feel as though you need a college degree just to make the choice.

The choice of schooling is very important to your child’s future, especially in the case of younger children. We know that a good start creates a solid foundation from which your child will draw as they move on in life.

We all want the best for our children — a nurturing, stimulating and engaging environment where they can develop and strengthen the skills needed to succeed academically and in life.

Those necessary skills include problem-solving, critical thinking, cognitive skills, self-confidence, self-discipline and acceptance of diversity. All of those skills are taught at Friendship Academy of Fine Arts Charter School. Friendship Academy of Fine Arts is a K-6 grade school with an art-infused curriculum, which means that core courses are taught as well as the arts.

Friendship Academy of Fine Arts (FAFA) is celebrating six years of building leaders through arts education. The school began in 2001, and holds the vision to educate students for a successful global future through the arts.

The idea of FAFA came out of a shared idea and vision of some members of Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. The members identified a need for obtaining higher academic standards with the youth in the community and wanted to make a positive impact, which they believe could be achieved through a blend of core curriculum and arts education. Some of the members continued working on the idea until it evolved into what is now known as Friendship Academy of Fine Arts Charter School. The original and current members who help create the school are Ethel Norwood, Mary Riley, Wendy Hines, Ora Hokes, Phillip Porter, Janice Porter, Juan Turner, Rev. James Porter Sr., Stephanie Gwin, Charlotte Burgess and Hubbard Burgess.

The school still has several founder and board members involved in some capacity, which demonstrates the amount of commitment and care they have given for their students’ academic and life success.

The founders and teachers of FAFA know that the arts are the embodiment of human imagination, and that we form human communities and culture by making art through stories, songs, drama, dance, sculpture, architecture and visual art.

The skills used to create those works and to understand their meaning must be taught. The human imagination must be awakened, nurtured and trained in order to perform, compose or respond to an art form. The teachers and founders of FAFA know that infused art helps the learner to achieve the desired skills in a format that is different and more engaging than many of the traditional methods. Thus, part of the educational experience includes theater, visual art, music and dance.

Each year since the school began, it has presented two major theater productions. The students are involved in all aspects of the theater production and have performed such plays as Storytime (a medley of known children’s stories which included Jack and The Bean Stalk, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and the Big Bad Wolf), The King’s New Clothes, Dalmatians Go Pop, Rock And Bach, A Day In Black, They Stood Their Ground, Flossie and the Hat, Three Little Pigs Went Boogie Woogie Around The World, and OZ.

Besides theater, FAFA provides an excellent visual arts component. The visual art teacher really knows how to encourage the students to use their imaginations and creativity to produce great visual art projects. From drawing to the creation of masks, the students create hands-on artwork. Some of the students entered art projects into the Minnesota State Fair A

August 11, 2006
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