Savants

Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 1.58.13 PMIt only makes sense that an unconventional school would have an unconventional newspaper. The ACMA Savant, a print staple on campus in the 2000s, began with the mission:

Savant is a student-organized, student-written youth zine. We of the Savant staff believe that school journalism belongs to the students and that school news should be reported by the students. We also believe that each art pathway at our school should be represented in the paper as equals to the best of our ability. We, the Savant staff, pledge to work hard, dig deep, and most importantly, to represent our unique, amazing school to its fullest extent.”

Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 1.58.43 PMYou can find many Savants catalogued online, and inside these issues you’ll find a window into the world of Arts & Communication Magnet Academy as quirky and opinionated, playful and iconoclastic, funny and heartfelt as the students who populated the school.

A sampling of articles shows ACMA Thespians volunteering at West Tualatin Valley Elementary School, sharing their love of performance with kids who saw them as stars; movie reviews, including advice on what to rent at the video store; and even a nice feature on Mr. Bertram’s wedding. What school puts in a feature on a teacher’s wedding? ACMA.

Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 2.00.22 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 1.57.55 PMCensorship looms large in several of the issues, discussions about the censoring of Capstones, of student art, even of Savant articles. One issue includes a funny mea culpa about Savant editors scratching out “one simple line,” an error in proofreading, as they explained it, that this many years later sparks curiosity as it prompts a smile.

Horoscopes, editorial cartoons, features on student bands, Savants throughout the years capture the spirit of ACMA, and a huge part of that spirit: art.

From drawings to photographs, poetry, stories, and articles about performances, Savants show ACMA students doing what they love, celebrating an unconventional school with an unconventional publication. So very ACMA.

Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 2.34.21 PM.png

Quonset Hut

Delightful is his feigned disbelief.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 1.39.27 PM

For an art school to create professional grade painting, drawing, dance, music, theater, sculpture, writing, and film in a building closed as an elementary school in 1974 is astounding to begin with. Dancers working in portables, musicians too, two programs that would seem to require bigger, better, and more specialized spaces, and not just making due, but making beautiful art should have jaws dropping. That filmmakers can produce polished products from a trailer, or that art studios housed in what were once elementary school classrooms can be the launching pad of stellar sculpture and fine art should inspire disbelief, legitimate disbelief, at least from anyone not familiar with Arts & Communication Magnet Academy. And yet…

For any of us who work here, who have gone to school at ACMA, or who are the families of ACMA artists (of any kind) making it work with what we have has been a part of our artistic life as long as the school has been around. When the students decided ACMA needed a gallery, they built one. When the students recognized that they needed to make the school their own, they painted murals. And when the burgeoning dance and theatre programs found themselves without a performance space, they took to the Quonset Hut.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 3.12.05 PM

Before the Performing Arts Center came to ACMA, students acted, danced, and made music on a stage in one of the most recognizable parts of campus, the round roofed building that has been, in its history on campus reaching back to 1958, an indoor play area, gym, and cafeteria.

Seeing productions on the main stage of the PAC today, it’s hard to imagine that this same high quality programing could ever take place in what looks like an airplane hanger, and yet…

IMG_0780In 2007, film teacher Corbin Supak played the role of a visitor to ACMA in 11th grader Megan Gould’s short film that embraced this dissonance. The PAC was less than two years away, which may have given these artists the piece of mind to poke fun at their “FOOD COURT / AUDITORIUM,” and poke fun they did.

The show begins with Mitchell, an earnest ACMA student, welcoming our visitor to a campus that should look familiar to alumni and current students alike. They peek into a converted classroom to see a tap class before heading outside to see “the performance space” for ACMA’s shows.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 2.46.00 PMSpotting the Quonset Hut the guessing begins: Auto shop? Construction? Scene building shop?

“Where is the entrance?” our visitor asks, widening his arms to suggest a grand marquee. “It’s right there, next to the trash can,” deadpans our host. They go inside, past the “ACMA Breakfast Special” and into “the performers entrance?!?!” Not so much.

After noticing the “installation art piece” of a water cooler and some microwaves, our pair stop to listen to a rehearsal of the upcoming play. “Mime?” he asks. “No.”

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 1.38.18 PM

They notice cafeteria coolers, stacks of tables, and signs proclaiming ACMA an exceptional school. With a smile almost touching his lips, our host asserts: “This is legitimate theatre.”

This low key critique of the state of arts facilities at ACMA stands the test of time, and as we prepare to close up the C.E. Mason Elementary building that ACMA has called home for more than a quarter century, it’s fun to look back at the place we’ve made work for so long. As in the student film, any cheeky (feigned) disbelief (because we know that we’ve spun gold from straw for so long) is made easier knowing that a new space is on the horizon, a campus opening in the fall of 2021 designed to be an art school.

In three or four years will the current photography room, film room, and art studios be thought of as being as antiquated as the Quonset Hut? Maybe. I’ll wager that those of us who are able to spend time at both sites will have stories to tell that will make students new to ACMA widen their eyes.

Screen Shot 2019-03-19 at 1.40.55 PM

Inside

Close to a hundred of us gathered in the library, cameras out, curiosity high, ready to see what was going to happen. At the front of the room our assistant principal and a senior stood together, masks over their faces, goggles on their eyes, power tools and a crowbar laid out in front of them on a table. Also on the table was a box.

box

Beautiful patinated copper, sealed decades earlier, the box was an object that had been in the principal’s office longer than most of our students had been alive.

Rumor had it that the box was found when workers moved a sign denoting the construction of C.E. Mason Elementary and opened the wall where it had been stowed. With no markings on the box and no indication who had put it there or how long it had been tucked behind the metal plaque, it got put on a shelf and there it stayed.

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 1.48.55 PMUntil today.

A few weeks back we started advertising the event, our opening the box that we believed was a time capsule. No one knew how old it was, or to be honest even if it was a time capsule. Old cynics wondered if there would actually be anything interesting inside. One cheeky alum suggested it might “unleash the demonic horde upon its unsealing.”

But we opted to brave disappointment or swirling demons, and during an all school lunch we gathered anyone interested in joining our adventure, prepped the power tools, and cued up a couple of cameras to capture the event.

img_0696.jpg

It took some work, but we broke into the box, pulled away a flap of copper, and looked inside. What we found was amazing.

IMG_0742Three stout newspapers were tucked in the time capsule, dated 1951. From them we learned about a school bond measure, rattling sabers of international conflict, and the shocking headline: BOY TUSSLES, DIES. Ye gads. One student asked afterward: “People really read these?” We assured him they did.

More local were copies of Live Wire, the elementary school newspaper, complete with jokes, updates, and stories written by the first through fifth graders. An example: “What can a canary do that a strong man can’t do? ans. Take a bath in a saucer.”

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 1.31.17 PMA photograph of the land on which the school was built came next, a glimpse back at 1947 when Beaverton looked much more rural than it does today.

An accompanying document, aged to sepia, informed us that the price of the parcel was $11,000 for “ten acres, more or less.”

Next out of the box were a fistful of envelopes, carefully labeled, containing documents relating to the school: a Teachers’ Bulletin, a Parent-Teachers Program, and a Teachers’ Handbook. That handbook told us that “every teacher should train her homeroom in good citizenship to prevent vandalism” and that “freak or cruel punishments should never be used, and all corporal punishment will be administered by the superintendent.”

Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 12.45.58 PM

More photos came next, smiling faces of the children of C.E. Mason Elementary. Many of these pupils, to borrow the parlance of the age, would be in their seventies now. A couple of our current kids wondered aloud if we might track them down. We might.

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 1.35.53 PMIncluded was an Oregon Department of Education report on the school, which proudly reported “The spirit of the school is excellent. Children show their pride in the new school by their behavior as they move quietly and busily about the building. They show a desire to learn and an enthusiasm about the school curriculum. A pleasant comradeship among the teachers reflects a comfortable environment.”

A history of the Beaverton Schools written by 8th grade students told us that “in the 1890s, boys and girls of Beaverton went to school in a three room, frame schoolhouse …at the entrance to the school yard was a sort of stile, with steps designed to keep stray stock from entering—at that time cattle and other animals roamed about pretty much as they pleased.” 1890 was closer to 1951 than 1951 is to today.

Another envelope labeled “silver coins” revealed $1.80 in nickels, quarters, dimes, and a half dollar, not enough to buy anything fancy, but a treasure nonetheless.

img_0698-e1552683779798.jpg

Rolled up tight beside the envelopes were a stack of scrolls signed by the faculty of C.E. Mason Elementary and each of the classes. From familiar (to Beaverton educators) names like Errol Hassell to the childish scrawl and budding penmanship of 1950s youngsters, these lists of names made a personal impression on those of us gathered in the library.

Screen Shot 2019-03-15 at 1.29.23 PMTucked inside with the rest of it all was as pamphlet from the Masonic Lodge. Somehow that felt right.

Principal Esther Peer’s “Monthly Report” told us the details of the school: 198 students filled C.E. Mason, with four tardies for the month, and a 98.2% attendance rate. I can picture her sitting in this same office I’m in today, pencil in hand, writing out the report with beautiful precision.

Right now, of course, my office smells like 1951.

With the box open and lunch at an end, the assembled students and staff went back to classes, thinking, maybe, about the faces of those who have filled these hallways before us. The former English teacher that I am couldn’t help but think of Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society inviting students to lean in and really look at the faces of the lads who had come before them. Carpe Diem, he whispered, seize the day.

Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 12.47.11 PM

Throughout this year our school has taken the opportunity to look back over the decades that this campus has welcomed students, from the opening of C.E. Mason Elementary through short stays by Five Oaks Middle School, Greenway Elementary, and a slew of special programs, and finally the establishment of Arts & Communication in 1992. These reflections help to give us perspective, root us in history, and show us a human face for the passage of time.

When we open our new building in 2021, seven decades after the first school opened on this site, our current students will install a time capsule of their own. How I wonder what the principal and her students in 2090 or so will think when they break open our box.

I hope that they will have that same feeling of wonder and exhilaration that we all felt in the library today, that looking back and seeing ourselves, that experience of connection with a group of people learning and laughing where we now do.More than history, today’s grand opening of that present from 1951 was true inspiration. Carpe Diem. Lean in. Seize the day.

Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 12.45.50 PM

 

We’re working to scan and photograph all the objects from this marvelous collection, and we hope to have it online in early April.

Gramps

His email arrived like a gust of Alaskan wind, ruffling an otherwise uneventful Thursday and bringing with it a hearty smile.

Nanuq!

That’s Inupiaq Eskimo for Bjorn.

I’m trying to find the photos of my grandfather, Dr. CE Mason, which I know I have someplace. I fear they may be in my Conex shipping container, which is at this time completely buried in snow.

But these two photos are good for a start. They were taken by my grandmother, Bertha Clement Mason. She developed and printed her own photos. The information says they were both taken on the Canby to Molalla Road.

I’ll keep looking for the other photos. Gramps was a big fan of getting studio portraits taken.

thanks,

James Mason
Nome Alaska

As many folks know, I spent the better part of the fall searching for a photograph of C.E. Mason, the fellow our school building was named after in 1949, a local doctor and school board member, and a truly valued citizen of our little town in the first half of the 20th century. He was, by all accounts, also known as being generous to those he served as a physician, an advocate for quality education in Beaverton, and an extremely kind person.

Stories of the hundreds and hundreds of babies he delivered in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, many in peoples’ homes, abound, as do memories of him taking in payment what his patients could afford. As I heard these stories in the fall, I could imagine him traveling the dirt roads out to farms, calling on those in need with the care, kindness, and professionalism that would endear him to generations of Beaverton families.

With this note from his grandson James came photographs that brought those imaginations to life. The first was of Dr. Mason traveling by horse and buggy.

DR. CE Mason 1912. Near Canby Oregon

I could almost hear the clop of the horses and see the doctor as he bent his head toward the work at hand, helping those in need. It reminded me of a story told to me by one of C.E. Mason’s other grandsons, Richard, who said that once he “met an old couple whose family farm had been sold to build a new housing development. The couple, twin brother and sister, had a fascinating personal story that still made them smile.

“They were born at home in the late thirties to a young mother. Back then, twins were a challenge, so apparently C.E. never told their mother she had twins. She went into labor late one night and C.E. drove out to the farm and delivered the first baby around 11:30 at night. Then, he told the mother, “My goodness, we’ve got another baby in here.”

“The mother said, “Well, I’m exhausted.  I’m going to sleep.” After 45 minutes, she awakened and pushed out the other baby, which was born at 12:15 am. The two were delighted to tell people (all their lives) that although they were twins, they had different birthdays.  They smiled when they told me the story and they were in their late 70’s.”

Dr. CE Mason 1912

The next picture, from the same era, shows the tall, lean C.E. Mason, bowler hat and dark suit, standing in a very Oregonian landscape. Not one to be confined to a city, I thought, not unlike his grandson in Nome.

Look close at this photo and you’ll see the rutted dirt road on which Dr. Mason piloted his horse and buggy. From his dapper bowler and bow tie to his well worn shoes, C.E. Mason is every inch a country doctor who made a difference. I can almost make out his stethoscope bulging from his coat pocket.

I love the fact that it was Bertha Mason who took and developed the photographs, something I mentioned to our current photography classes when I showed them the pictures. She was an artist in her own right, I thought, looking at that photo in the woods, and a good one at that.

Dr. CE Mason and wife Bertha

Another email followed the first, with two more delightful pictures. The first gives a face to Bertha, standing beside her husband, taken sometime around 1910. They’re a handsome couple, poised on the start of a grand adventure that will take them from Illinois to Oregon.

The final photo is a studio portrait from 1960. The fifty years that separate these two photographs were filled with so very much history, including in 1949 the naming of a new Beaverton Elementary School after the good doctor. Arts & Communication Magnet Academy now lives on the spot of C.E. Mason Elementary, and as we look to rebuild campus at the end of this year, it makes me happy to have a photograph that we can frame and put in our office, a nod to a founding father, and a reminder that kindness and generosity, dapper bowlers and well worn shoes, a sense of civic spirit and a dedication to education will always have a place in our school.

Dr. CE Mason

On a personal note, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to James Mason for sharing these beautiful photographs of his “gramps.” They bring to life a person I’ve read much about and whose story I am proud to share with our school community. Thanks too to Richard Mason for the memories of C.E. he shared. Learning more about our past helps us gain perspective that can make our collective future better and better. Thank you.

News and a Gong

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 3.32.44 PMOne of the joys of looking back over the history of Arts & Communication Magnet Academy is stumbling on photos, stories, and videos that capture a day in the life of our school. Formal performances are wonderful, and looking back at recordings of music, dance, and theatre is an inspiration; yearbooks offer a window into the past, they are chronicles striving to present the year writ large; but for a glimpse into what it was like on campus in years gone by it’s those more impromptu moments, the times when daily life or more modest school events were put on film, that may offer the best seat in the house. Two of these that do a wonderful job of showing life in the early 2000s come in the form of ACMA News and a full recording of the ACMA Gong Show.

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 3.48.05 PMWatching the video of the ACMA News is a delight. Predating, but anticipating, “Between Two Ferns,” this adventure in pluck shows the playful charm that one can imagine those same teenagers brought to math class and science class and English. Our hosts introduce several segments, including a look at the major changes to ACMA, with a student body “now above 475 students!” There is also a bit on yearbook photos, with a look behind the scenes at the fans that blew hair and photographers who captured the silliness. A stock market report, a testament to the way in jokes age, is delivered in perfect deadpan. I imagine some of the students who were here at the time will get the gag. A segment on theatre shows the Quonset Hut as performing space. And in a surrealistic turn, “TV Tutors” show up, leaving the audience with an understanding that at ACMA “the news” was as serious as a painting by Dali or a play by Beckett.

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 6.33.09 AMIn December 2003 ACMA hosted their own Gong Show. With a run time of just over twenty minutes, the video of the ACMA Gong Show shows flashes of talent, humor, and youthful exuberance, all presented with a dash of silliness that is as much a part of ACMA as artistic ability.

Current ACMA teachers Jon Gottshall and Geoff Hunnicutt, both with fantastic facial hair that should delight today’s students, help judge the affair. When I showed them the video at least one of them confessed to a touch of guilt for banging the cymbal that served as a gong.

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 6.33.44 AM

The crowd seemed to love the show, laughing and clapping as the series of performers took the stage for a variety of acts from serious to playfully kooky. From a moving rendition of “Summertime” that had the audience snapping their fingers  to a smiling tune called “Uhhh…” that earned not one but two gongs, ACMA performers worked the crowd, engaged with the judges, and showed ridiculous talent and a willingness to be ridiculous.

Not everyone was sure what to do with a cover of the Talking Heads tune “Psycho Killer,” so in true ACMA style they chose simply to enjoy it …at least until the gong brought the act to an end. Other students finished songs before that cymbal crashed, but even for those who made it, eyes shifting from judge to judge to judge to gong were the rule, rather than the exception.

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 3.37.21 PMThe most rigorous gong came for The Dancing People, whose act from beginning to (quick) end brought the crowd to their feet, and the judges too …as they rushed for the gong.

The night ended, as the best Gong Shows do, with our emcee lowering expectations for the winners with: “Keep in mind we don’t have very nice prizes. What’s that? A used pencil!”

The Dancing People were told they needed to share their pencil.

The grand prize, delivered with fantastic game show music and much aplomb …a pencil!

Laughter ensued. So very ACMA.

There is much, much, much more to the story of ACMA in the early 2000s than is captured in these videos, fabulous facts, splendid stories, and marvelous memories, and yet as a slice of life these are clear windows into a creative and wonderful world.

Screen Shot 2019-02-27 at 3.47.05 PM

Pirates and Thumbprints

My favorite yearbooks are the ones that veer completely from conventionality and make choices that are particularly bizarre. Yearbooks are the chronicles of a school, precious tomes that capture a whole year’s worth of memories between sturdy covers, they are records of a time that matters so dearly to students, books tucked away to be revisited decades later with a smile and blush of memory. So when yearbooks get kooky, some non sequitur on the cover or a bold and unexpected theme, I can’t help but admire the pluck of the editors and the willingness of the advisor to let her or his kids simply have fun.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 8.52.08 AMEnter pirates.

Now for the casual reader, someone maybe not tied to Arts & Communication Magnet Academy, I need to point out that our school does not have a mascot. We are not the Cougars or Mavericks or Vikings, we don’t shout “Go Mustangs!” at the big game (in part because there is no “big game” at ACMA, unless maybe you count the kids playing sharks and minnows at first lunch). So when I spotted the 2002-2003 ACMA yearbook I was struck by the jaunty fellow on the cover, peg legged, hook handed, with a parrot on the shoulder of his captain’s jacket.

Yes, anyone who knows me knows I dig pirates, but just as much I love creativity and the unexpected, and this yearbook offers both, as well as some nice nods to ACMA tradition and a sense of fun that shows up on every page.

One of those traditions is a page of Senior Thumbprints, signatures and stamped fingerprints for every graduate. This tradition, that honors diversity even as it includes everyone in an organized image, is a great example of that balance between individuality and cohesion that is ACMA at its best.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 8.49.12 AM

The Senior Challenge is another tradition, now lost to time, that appears in this and other mid 2000s yearbooks. In 2002-2003 the challenge was to figure out long many metric feet long the class was. They didn’t quite make it. Senior Challenges haven’t been a part of more recent ACMA classes, but as we bid adieu to our C.E. Mason building, it strikes me as a good year to bring this one back.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 9.49.57 AMOther traditions have evolved over time. In 2003, ACMA had a more traditional formal court. These days the court is less constrained by formality or gender specifications, but looking at the posed images from ACMA’s early 21st century royalty is a reminder of where we’ve been.

Less formal are the staff photos, a playful lot, including half a dozen smiling adults (well, alleged adults) who still prowl the hallways of ACMA today. Seeing them then is a reassurance that even as we face great change, there is a certain stability that should reassure us that the heart of ACMA isn’t our building; it is our people.

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 6.30.06 PM

Many of those people joined clubs, very much on display in that pirate yearbook. Some are familiar (Dance West, National Honor Society, and Theatre Ensemble), and some delightfully unexpected (Brain Bowl and the Cross Country Ski Team), populate the yearbook, smiling students doing what they love.

Playful candids, and the “so very ACMA” incongruity of Yoda showing up on page 49. It’s a pirate yearbook, sure, but …Yoda.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 8.49.39 AM

It wouldn’t be a vintage ACMA yearbook without a few misspellings, but no matter how you spell “Congratulations” the yearbook shouts that ACMA truth that there is a place for everyone in this colorful world of jazz, art, and creativity.

…and there’s a page simply titled: Attack of the Russian Toilet Paper Princess. This is not Beaverton High School.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 9.50.29 AMIt certainly was not. As 2004 grad Gretchen remembered, “We were the most random smattering of kids that could express ourselves uniquely and be different without judgment. We each had our own claimed part of the L hallway- my spot was this old heater near the stairs to sit, dance around, and eat at- I only ate in the “cafetorium”- as we called it once the hideous stage was built (hah), on brown bag lunch performance days… For me it seemed like the best collaborations started to be born post-2002 and Art is my Voice, when we all realized that coming together could make pretty inspiring projects.”

Inspiring they were, and inspiring they are. The memories artwork that still whisper through our hallways like happy spirits haunting a sacred space make ACMA a magical place. So a decade and a half later, it’s fun to raise our goblet to the playful souls of years past, and especially that swashbuckling crew who put together ACMA’s only pirate themed yearbook (so far). Cheers to Moments to Treasure, a rollicking good adventure and a perfect window into Arts & Communication Magnet Academy.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 9.50.18 AM

One More Try?

Why are you leaving,
You’re saying goodbye.
Why don’t you stay,
And give it one more try?
-Exploding Hearts, Guitar Romantic 2003

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 4.47.07 PM

A student editorial in 2001 lamented the changing face of C.E. Mason: “I think this used to be a place worth fighting for, but I worry that if I stay here any longer the fight will die in me as well. I am emotional, I am sensitive, and I care. I don’t ever want to stop caring. Not about what’s really important in life. Not about my education. And definitely not about people and being a decent human being,” the editor wrote. “This school may have at one time been worth the down sides. You would never have been able to take advanced math, or get expensive art supplies, or have big dances, but there was something here that overcame all that so this wasn’t just a place to go to school. It was home away from home.”

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 4.40.05 PMHome.

It’s a word you hear used by alumni and current students and staff present and past to describe our little school. Masonites, ACMAniacs, just about everyone who has spent time here understands that there is something special about the place, something familial, unique, maybe even a little quirky.

This was true at the opening of the school and shows itself in today’s ACMA, the only school I know of where a student might walk by in horns and hooves, not as part of a dress up day, but just because; where students eat lunch in the hallways and a stroll from one end of the building to the other could include a violin concert, students practicing pirouettes, or playing ukulele; and where one of this October’s biggest hits was Drag Night.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 3.40.53 PMIn the early part of the 21st century the changes coming to the school were seismic. New programs, new teachers, new focus on arts and academics changed the way the school walked through the world. It did not, however, change that creative spirit of the students. “Sensitive, caring,” as that newspaper editor described it, ACMA remained a place for creative souls, oddballs, and artists.

You can see the creative tension between the loose gambol of artists and the structured march of students completing a professional job in the two films that take a stab at answering the question: “What’s it like at ACMA?” There’s a certain cheeky truth to A Day in the Life of a Shadow absent from the more obviously sanctioned advertisement for Arts & Communication Magnet Academy. Both do a great job of showing off campus circa 2002, but only one is obvious in capturing the pluck of the students of the time.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 3.40.45 PMBoth films show, however, that creativity isn’t bound by rules, and even when they try, those in power can’t completely control the creativity that courses through the veins of students. Nor, I would add, should they try. Students will always find ways to have their voices heard.

What flowed through ACMA in the early 2000s was an artistic energy that motivated students to create. Sometimes it was silly, like The Lonely Cheeseburger. Sometimes it was exuberant, like performances on the Quonset Hut stage. Sometimes it was in service to others, like the production of A Fairy’s Tale that ACMA students took out to delight elementary schools.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 4.05.17 PMAs refined as some would say ACMA was becoming, it was still the only school around with Mona Lisa on the cover of the yearbook, and a set of ACMA Mona Lisas at that, one heavy metal hair band, another punk rocker, a third Flavor Flav, and Mona Lisa Madonna rounding out the quartet.

Creativity was whispered on the wind. It appeared in wild celebrations of art like Kahlo’s View and Art is My Voice. It showed up as electric guitars and accordions.

Talk with students who were here at the start of the 21st Century and you’ll hear stories of stealing picnic baskets from behind the principal and trying to fit the whole senior class into two cars. By 2003 student artwork had returned to the pages of the yearbook. By 2004 the silly photos were as silly as ever.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 3.57.17 PM

Visual arts and creative writing swelled in the curriculum right beside those advanced math classes the student editor from 2001 thought would never happen, though her editorial ended with an optimism that feels very much like the spirit of our school. “Our school may be dead,” she wrote “but I think it’s in every one of us, teachers and students, new and old, to bring about a change. I believe you all have integrity and good hearts. Maybe C.E. Mason is just lying dormant. Maybe it’s just waiting for a time when it’s safe to return.”

If the art of the time was any indication, things were changing at Arts & Communication Magnet Academy, evolving into a diverse array of creative expression. Alongside this artistic pursuit, a certain spirit held true, a spirit of good hearted mischief, care for each other, and belief in the power of art. Hindsight provides a clearer picture of these times, when creativity was shaking out of any perceived dormancy and stretching its wings to soar.

Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 4.34.29 PM