As a music teacher, Jessica Gartrell lives for her students’ public performances.
With COVID-19 safety restrictions this year, it wasn’t going to be easy — but you can always count on an arts educator to get creative.
“I felt the urgency, now more than ever, to make certain that a performance took place this year,” said Gartrell, of Socrum Elementary.
She found her inspiration at church. Gartrell, a member of Kathleen Baptist Church since childhood, took notice of the church’s approach to social distancing this year: using a radio transmitter to broadcast each week’s sermon to members sitting in their cars in the parking lot.
Gartrell thought it could work for a school concert. Fortunately, Kathleen Baptist staff agreed and volunteered to host the event, using their equipment and a committee of helpers to make it possible.
Gartrell and her students have spent months preparing for next week’s debut of “Makers of Change.” It’s billed as a drive-in musical celebration of “friendship, respect, dignity and diversity.”
Getting to this point has not been easy. With both in-class and online students featured among the cast, Gartrell has had to navigate the challenges of sharing performance materials and music via Schoology and conducting rehearsals on Zoom.
But it’s finally all coming together. “Makers of Change” will be held at Kathleen Baptist on April 26, 27 and 29 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. each night. There is no cost to attend.
“I am very blessed to have such caring and giving community support,” Gartrell says. “Not only is this a unique performance, I think it will be a timely, positive and memorable occasion for the performers and attendees alike.”
(Main photo: A trio of Jessica Gartrell’s performers at Socrum Elementary.)