Fine Arts News

Friday, October 26th was Wonza Johnson Day at Andrew Jackson Middle School! Johnson went to AJMS over ten years ago and now tours with the musical and hit show Hamilton. Mr. Timmons presented him with a plaque at a special assembly for 7th and 8th grade students. Johnson took time to thank his teachers from his years at AJMS, Ms. Turner and Mrs. Benton, for their dedication and support. He told students to continue to explore all avenues and grow and find themselves, especially during the middle school years. He talked about having diverse experiences such as playing the oboe in band, juggling in theatre, and running track. Lancaster County Public Schools Arts Coordinator David Platts arranged Johnson's visit to AJMS. The questions from students at the end of the interview were fantastic and show how engaged our school is. Way to go AJ!

Harpist Christine Van Arsdale’s visit to Andrew Jackson Middle School may have come a day late, due to school’s cancellation on Thursday, but there was nothing stopping the music from AJMS students! 7th & 8th Grade Strings and Chorus students performed with this wonderful and talented musician as they learned about the harp and the music of Great Britain and Ireland.

“I was extremely proud of all of the performers today. Not only for the music that they made, but for the people that they are. They performed great and adapted to many adjustments needed to play with a harpist like using microphones so well. And when they became the audience they showed the pride and respect that we give to others at AJ Middle School. This was just one of the many musical experiences to share with others here at an Arts Focus school” said Dr. Moncrief, Strings and Chorus teacher.

Ms Van Arsdale played dance and folk music of Scotland and Ireland as Great Britain is the focus country this year at AJMS. When she heard that at the Middle School we were doing Mary Poppins Jr. in May of 2019 with Mr. Skinner directing, she immediately played “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Students learned why some strings are colored and how the pedals of the concert harp work.

The highlight of the residency with Ms. Van Arsdale was the student performance. The 7th & 8th Grade Strings class played “A Fig for a Kiss” and soloists and sections of the string orchestra got to play with Ms. Van Arsdale. The 7th & 8th Grade Chorus sang an English Festival song entitled, “Good Cheer” with the harp accompanying and members of Ms. Brown’s 8th Grade Band Percussion section. The residency was a success and a powerful way to connect students at Andrew Jackson Middle School to working professional musicians. Thank you to Ms Van Arsdale for visiting us at AJ Middle School.


On a wonderful fall day in Stevens Park the music of strings, amazing voices, and artistic talents were on display. Focus Arts students from Andrew Jackson Middle School performed on the stage at the wonderful Amphitheater of Stevens Park at 1pm. Visual Art students from Ms. Rapposelli’s Art class painted faces.

The performance began with 8th Grade String Quartet (Da’Rissa Izzard, Karli Rathel, Lilly Horton, and Luke Benfield) performing two selections. 6th Grade Chorus Focus student, Eliana P. then sang “America the Beautiful” while 7th Grade Chorus student Gracie R. performed American Sign Language. This was an amazing treat to "see" music, so thank you Gracie for the fantastic gift you shared with our community.

6th Grade Focus student Jiltoria Johnson sang “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music and did a fantastic job!

The Andrews Sisters would be proud to hear Emma E, Lilly H., Olivia N., Da’Rissa I., and McKibben W. sing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” The crowd enjoyed this great tune and the students are looking forward to performing it with our Dance Focus students during the Veterans Day Program on November 8th at 10 am.

A group of 7th grade students (Kamille C., Layla S., and Seneca S.) then sang “Carolina on my Mind” they are performing for the Veterans Day program.

Seneca S., 7th Grade Chorus Focus student, also sang “I’m not that Girl” from the musical Wicked. To conclude, Dr. Moncrief and all of the students joined with the audience to sing “Do-Re-Mi” from The Sound of Music. It was a fantastic day in the park and a wonderful opportunity for students to perform. Many thanks to the Kershaw Park for organizing this event and giving our students the opportunity to perform! Way to go, AJ!