Red Bank Catholic seniors, St. James School’s youngest partner in Creative Movement class

By EmmaLee Italia | Trenton Monitor Correspondent

MOVIN’ AND GROOVIN’ • Kindergarten and preschool students in St. James School, Red Bank, stretch, bend and pretend along with Red Bank Catholic performing arts director Stacy Bascom and RBC seniors assisting in the Creative Movement class. Courtesy photo

A unique partnership between Red Bank Catholic High School and St. James Catholic School, Red Bank, is allowing senior high school students to help lead preschool and kindergarten students in a class that incorporates music, movement and learning.

The schools began Sept. 27 with their first weekly 30-minute class in “Creative Movement,” led by RBC performing arts director Stacy Bascom, assisted by the older students. Bascom was approached over the summer by St. James principal JoAnn Giordano, with the idea of a movement class for the youngest students. The two collaborated to design a class outline, and Bascom began to craft the exercises and games.

Classes will begin with stretching and warmup games, then move into an imagination section, Bascom explained.

“Kids are asked to pretend to be a tree, a falling leaf, popcorn … and we try to move our bodies through the space mimicking the object or theme that day,” she continued. “Then we work on our locomotor skills: hopping, jumping, marching, walking on a ‘tightrope,’ skipping and moving backwards.” The classes end with a cool down and relaxation with stretching and breathing activities to bring heart rates back down and “relax the kids before they go back to their normal classes,” Bascom said.

The class is designed to help children develop motor coordination, increase spatial and rhythmic awareness, and to provide a positive learning experience, with development of basic concepts like rhythm, directionality, perception and memory.

“It is both a physical activity and a vehicle for self-expression, giving the students the opportunity to explore and create,” Bascom said. “Creative Movement is an opportunity for all children, regardless of age or developmental stage, to interact with each other.”

RBC seniors were picked through an application and contract process that is part of the schools internship program, which is open to any interested seniors, to help them prepare for college and beyond. The internship opportunity is also open to juniors during the second school semester.

Senior Bridgin Murrer had several reasons for wanting to assist with the Creative Movement class, not the least of which were the positive aspects dance has to offer.

“Dance is a highly physical activity, and can help with posture, balance, coordination and stamina,” Murrer explained. “In addition, dance helps people develop better socialization and communication skills.”

Lauren Walker, also a senior, wanted to help lead the class because “it is great to see the benefits dance can have on younger children. All aspects of dance apply, including discipline, strength, concentration, athleticism, etc.”

Walker and the other RBC class participants have been Bascom’s students since freshman year, Walker noted, so “the opportunity to help her teach the St. James students was too hard to pass up. Also, since many of the students are so young, it will be a challenge while also proving to be a great learning experience for us,” she added.

Murrer believes that working together in the group as a team helps to establish trust and cooperation, as well as assuaging common fears and anxiety, teaching discipline and working their minds while learning different combinations.

“Most importantly though, in my opinion, is that by participating in dance children become more comfortable with their bodies,”Murrer continued. “I hope to inspire them like my teachers have inspired me.”

Walker hopes that her participation in the class will help with her college applications, represented as a teaching internship for children in the performing arts.

“It shows schools that we are interested in giving our time to activities outside of academics, and are looking for experience in our interest fields,” she elaborated. “The chance to teach the St. James students shows a willingness to aid in their personal and character development alongside our own dance mentor … we are serious about pursuing our futures and driven to create new experiences.”

Bascom hopes the class will show the public that RBC and St. James School are “creating well-rounded children, that we do things differently here, and that we have many amazing opportunities for young kids all the way up to high school.”

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