KINGSBURG – They may be dressed in leotards and leaping through the air in preparation for a “Nutcracker” performance this November, but they aren’t seasoned ballerinas. They’re elementary students enrolled in ballet lessons through Kingsburg’s Central Valley Home School.
The enrichment class is just one new option at the school that’s chartered through the Kingsburg Elementary School District.
Principal Misti Jennings said the class is just one way they hope to add value to the students’ homeschooling experience as choosing this format of education can be difficult but rewarding, she said.
“For parents, homeschooling involves a sacrifice of time, tons of effort, loads of patience and knowledge.
Offering enrichment, academics, field trips, assemblies and parent professional development is one way we can foster growth in our future generations while giving the parents a much-needed break,” Jennings said.
Students from kindergarten through eighth grade may take the ballet classes which were made possible through the Hillblom Foundation. Dance studio director Yukari Thiesen assisted with making the arrangements.
“CVHS was gifted the opportunity for ballet lessons,” Jennings said. “The Hillblom Foundation put [Thiesen] in contact with CVHS because they know that we are always looking for enriching opportunities for our students.”
Jennings said she’s appreciative of the opportunity as the lessons will last the entire school year and students have the option to be part of both “The Nutcracker” in November and “Romeo and Juliet” at the William Saroyan Theatre in Fresno in the spring.
Shelby Archible, formerly a dancer in the Boston Ballet, is the ballet instructor for the lessons which take place at the Kingsburg Ballet & Arts Studio. She says the structure of ballet will help instill a sense of discipline in the students they can carry with them into any career and their adult lives.
Ballet class participants say they’re excited to have the new class as it’s typically the first time they’ve tried ballet and parents says it gives their children another avenue to get quality, structured physical education.
“I’m learning all the positions,” said Kingsburg third-grader Nicole Loewen of all the proper ballet techniques.
Jennings said the school typically offers two on-site sessions of enrichment to the students each year. The ballet lessons are one option and guitar lessons by Theodore Barber are the other.
Barber says learning an instrument is like learning another language as it opens up the neural networks in the brain and helps with problem solving.
“It might seem intimidating, but once you get going, you can go far with the instrument,” Barber said. Guitar is very inviting since once you learn a few things you can play a song. You can learn what you like to hear.”
Jennings said music has always been a favorite with their students.
"Providing instruction in guitar is our way of moving our music class forward and challenging our students to learn new skills,” she said. “After speaking with [Theodore Barber], I knew he would be a good fit for our families. Career-wise, he plans to teach guitar at the college level and working with CVHS is giving him valuable experience teaching groups. Our students, parents and staff are excited as well.”
Aside from the traditional course offerings in subjects such as science, math, physical education and art, CVHS has added a Makerspace program where families come to the campus at 1776 Sixth Ave. to explore science, technology, engineering and math materials.
“This includes Lego for education products, Robotics such as Mindstorms, EV3, Wonder workshop), a 3D printer, as well as other lower-tech options for crafting and making,” Jennings said.
The school also offers one-to-one availability of Chromebook laptops this year, which Jennings says is important as schools focus on building 21st century skills needed for college and career readiness.
“While most of our families may have a home computer, they don’t necessarily have one per child. Many of our families have multiple children in our program and providing them the opportunity to have all of them working online at the same time has been much appreciated.”
STEM bins filled with consumable activities related to science, technology, engineering and math are also available at the school. The kits come with lessons, activities, materials and links to extend the learning on the subject.
“We wanted to add it into our program as we realize hands-on learning is crucial in fostering a lifelong love of learning,” Jennings said.
CVHS has been serving Valley families for more than 20 years and Jennings says they consider themselves partners as parents navigate the education of their child.
“CVHS provides assistance with curriculum choice, pacing, planning and the expertise of our credentialed teachers. We meet at least monthly with the families we serve and often more than that. Teachers are available daily for support of the parent and the student.”