A Preview of ISAS

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Whitney Thomas, Co-editor of Student Life

This year, Casady has the privilege of hosting the ISAS Arts Festival. The ISAS Arts Festival, or simply known as ISAS to its participants, was founded in 1967 by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), and had humble beginnings with only Wichita Collegiate, Holland Hall, and Casady as participants at Casady School. Now, however, the ISAS Arts Festival will be attended by 3,000 students from approximately forty schools from Oklahoma, including Heritage Hall and Holland Hall, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

This year’s ISAS is particularly special because 2017 marks its 50th anniversary. The theme is Catching Dreams, with a dream catcher as the festivals’ icon, which already decorates the buildings of on campus. As a liberal arts school, Casady highly values the arts and the impact it can have educationally and emotionally on its students. Mr. Sheldon, the headmaster,  believes it is meaningful to host such an event due to the increasing lack of access students have to the arts, and wants to “showcase not only the depth of our programs and commitment to the arts, but also the long storied tradition of commitment to the arts at Casady School.”

ISAS holds a variety of performances, from jazz bands, to dance recitals. In “coffee house” performances, students have the opportunity to perform songs of their choice in an outdoors, laidback environment. There are also orchestra and choir performances throughout the day. One can go watch a play or musical theater production, improv sketches, or a student created film or one act play. Visual arts such as drawings, paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and photography, are displayed in exhibits that can be freely perused by other students. Professionals in each artistic field attend the festival in order to offer advice to each student regarding their work. Though the work is critiqued, ISAS is in no way a competition nor does it have a competitive spirit, but is simply a chance for students to express themselves without the fear of judgement.

Workshops are offered for the students during the festival in both the visual and performing arts. The workshops range from beginner level to expert level in their respective fields, and allow the students an opportunity to explore a new branch of art, or continue to develop their skills in an area they already participate in. These range from basic drawing to printmaking, ukulele for beginners to advanced violin techniques, and even salsa dancing to zumba. The festival is not only a celebration of what students’ have already learned, but a chance to continue to grow one’s knowledge and experience with the arts.

Perhaps the most purposeful aspect of ISAS is the sense of community it brings to all its visitors. Last year was my first time to participate in the ISAS Arts Festival in San Antonio, and I felt so welcomed and encouraged by everyone there. Students make friends with those from different schools, and form friendships based on their common love of the arts. It is not rare for spontaneous concerts to break out, or find huddles of people from all different schools playing their guitars and enjoying each other’s’ presence. This festival cultivates so much more than technical skill into students; it cultivates passion and appreciation for others’ and their work. As the year begins, Casady continues to prepare for the festival, and is eager to make this ISAS the most fun and memorable one yet.

If you have questions regarding the festival, see Mrs. Seitter (seitterp@casady.org) or Mrs. Pardue (parduea@casady.org).