Building Community and the Arts

Place-based project leads to student-built amphitheater in Alton, Missouri.

September 29, 2017 |

Alton, Missouri speech and drama students built a a community amphitheater in a city park adjacent to their school.

The humanities matter. We believe rural communities are stronger when they nurture and celebrate the cultural arts. Anne Oesch and her Alton, Missouri (pop. 831) students believe this, too, and the Rural Schools Partnership recognized their vision by awarding Oesch and her speech and drama classes $3,000 for a Greek Amphitheater and Readers' Theater Project. This funding enabled a Greek theater to be built over the summer in the Alton city park, which is adjacent to the school. This grant specifically funded land preparation at the park, sculpting the seating, stage work and native stone retaining walls.

The project was delayed by devastating spring floods, which severely impacted the community and required the attention of everyone in the region. Still, Oesch and her students persevered, and the project was completed. Dr. Jane Ward, Missouri State University-West Plains faculty member and Rural Schools Collaborative Rural Education Fellow, reported that the impact of the project was immediate. "They did a movie at the park last week," Ward noted, "and it was very well attended."

Congratulations to Anne Oesch and her students! This is an example of place-based learning at its best.

Funding for the project was made possible by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks' Rural Schools Partnership program and its Coover Regional Grantmaking Program. This effort is a key component of the Rural Schools Collaborative's Grants in Place effort.

Here is Anne Oesch's poster award ceremony and grant recognition from earlier in the spring.

Girl Power! Laying a foundation for the Arts in Alton, Missouri!

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