EASTCONN Where Learning Comes to Life

The Show Goes on at ACT

How does a hands-on performing arts magnet high school continue to deliver top-notch learning experiences during a pandemic? Like other schools, EASTCONN’s Arts at the Capitol Theater (ACT) has worked hard to meet the challenges of delivering both traditional academics and arts classes to on-site and remote learners. Using advanced technologies and a big dose of creativity, teaching staff continue to offer their students exciting arts education opportunities, whether on stage or behind the scenes. 

“Our hybrid model of learning has allowed us to cohort students based on grades and majors to minimize movement throughout the building and maximize safety measures of distance and small numbers in all of our learning spaces,” said ACT Principal Sarah Mallory. “Students are able to access instruction with Chromebooks from home or school to allow continuity of learning.”

Classes usually include in-person students as well as remote learners; staff are using Zoom to teach both simultaneously. 

“Whether at home or in school, our resources for A/V classes have never been more robust,” said Media Technology teacher Dan Boisvert. “All students have their own Chromebooks and through student research, we have been able to use several compatible, free software options. ACT has also purchased licensing for editing and design software. These options continue to help students explore, collaborate virtually and, of course, create. It’s a different experience and it’s working pretty well.”

Studying dance offers some unique challenges. Studios and stages are marked-off to allow for proper social distancing.
When the weather is good, classes are held outdoors. 

“The Dance Department at ACT is currently working on their first full-length dance performance film and live-stream performance,” said Tiana Mancuso, ACT’s Director of Dance. “Using the Shaboo Stage and other outdoor spaces for classes and rehearsals has been exciting and it has inspired us to create a site-specific work, filmed in various downtown Willimantic locations.”

“The theater program is developing an interactive video game format that we are hoping will be live-streamed,” said Director of Theater Sandra Evans-Abbott. “We’re planning to develop this in conjunction with the A/V program and the Theater Production program. We are still working on conceptual logistics, and will be calling the piece ‘The Performers of the Pandemic.’”

Other areas of study at ACT include Creative Writing and Theater Production. EDITOR’s NOTE: Learn more about ACT on page 2 of this newsletter, or at www.eastconn.org/act