Act One Field Trips Off to a Great Start

Act One Field Trips Off to a Great Start

It was a bright, sunny morning in early October when school children from opposite ends of the Valley came together to experience the magic of the theater as East Valley Children’s Theater presented “The Princess and the Pea” at Mesa Arts Center. More than 210 students and their chaperones from Avalon Elementary in Apache Junction, Tartesso Elementary in Buckeye and Hawthorne Elementary in Mesa streamed off their buses and excitedly filed into the theater, full of wonder and anticipation for what they were about to experience.

For many of these students, it was the first time they had been on a school bus, and for most it was the first time they had been to a performing arts center to see a play. All come from Title 1 schools that have very limited funding for arts programming, and arts field trips are cost prohibitive due to admission and bus expenses. Through the Act One Field Trips Program, Title 1 schools can partner with Act One to bring students to arts performances ranging from theater and ballet to dance and music. Act One coordinates the field trips with the teachers and arts venues, covering the cost of admission and buses. Additionally, Act One provides curriculum materials for all the teachers who participate in the program. The schools are responsible for a $1 per child shared cost.

In the first three months of the 2015-2016 school year, Act One has hosted 11 separate field trips and 5,900 children and chaperones in Phoenix and Tucson, and is on track to bring more than 25,000 school children on arts field trips by school year’s end.

“The Act One field trips give our students a broader perspective and expand on what they're learning in the classroom,” said Mary Seabright, a retired teacher who coordinates field trips for Avalon Elementary School. “The opportunity to go to an arts center, sit in the theater and watch the magic of a story unfold live on stage magnifies their lessons and provides a dimension of learning that enriches their perspectives.”

In addition to the field trips, Act One provides curriculum materials for teachers to use in the classroom to set the stage for what the students will see. For some shows, Act One also provides books for each student attending the field trip.

The best testament for the Act One Field Trip Program comes when students exit the theater buzzing about the show and full of delight about what they saw. It comes when teachers share months later about how it has impacted their students. And it comes when a thick package full of handwritten notes arrives at the Act One office. 

One student from Arrowhead Elementary School in Phoenix, who attended Childsplay’s “Sideways Stories from Wayside School” at the Tempe Center for the Arts in October, summed up her experience in a recent note: “Dear Act One, Thank you so much for donating tickets and the bus for us to see sideways stories from Wayside school [sic]. My favorite person was Myron because he fell out the window and the clock was upside down he was funny. Thank you, Sincerely, Avery.”

Cheryl Pietrocarlo, a 3rd grade teacher from Camelview Elementary School in Phoenix, shared a story about one of her students who attended a field trip on November 5 to the Phoenix Symphony's program "Social Change: Bach to Rock to Hip Hop." 

"When my student, Jaycob, came to me in the morning [after the field trip], the first thing he said with an excited expression and voice was, 'Ms. Pietrocarlo, they played Beethoven 5th!' I said, 'Did you take a deep breath and feel it in your heart and soul?' He said, "OH YEAH! And the whole class was really quiet too!' I want to thank you ... from the bottom of my heart for organizing this and having it available to our students. This cultural experience was a blessing to them."

For more information about the Act One Field Trip program, to see a list of field trips and to fill out a field trip request form, click here.


Posted Nov. 11, 2015