Perry-Mansfield program launches at Hayden Schools | SteamboatToday.com

Perry-Mansfield program launches at Hayden Schools

Frances Hohl/For Steamboat Today

Songwriter Kathy Hussey is surrounded by Hayden High School 10th graders as they record a song they all wrote based on a book in their English class about an African boy soldier.

— How do Hayden students take a shocking book about a boy who committed heinous acts as an African child soldier and create an amazing song out of his ordeal?

"Going in I wasn't sure what we were getting into but by the end I didn't want to leave," said student Allison Ingols from her 10th grade English class.

Ingols and students from Hayden's middle school and high school hosted singer-songwriter Kathy Hussey for two weeks as she guided them through the art of songwriting by incorporating their class assignments with singing.

"I think it's a really good way for them to have a different outlet for the knowledge they acquire," Hussey said. "Instead of worrying about tests, you see them bring in what they've learned, and they teach me about it. They get excited writing songs about it.”

Hussey is part of the Perry-Mansfield in the Schools project, which integrates the arts into the core curriculum of underserved schools.

Nashville-based Hussey said Hayden students will perform the songs at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 28 in the school auditorium.

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The songs cover history, education and science lessons, with everything from Stonehenge to the famous frozen ice mummy found in the Alps.

"It was really awesome what she taught us and what we accomplished in just a few hours," said sophomore Paige Barnes. "Her talent and ability to just bust out a song was the coolest part."

"Kathy has given us a songwriting experience to remember," agreed Christopher Carrouth, another contributor to "Dig Deep," the song about the child soldier.

Perry-Mansfield in the Schools is also sending in dance teachers to the elementary schools in hopes of reinforcing classwork the kids will be doing on the water cycle and Haiku.

The Perry-Mansfield program was so impressive that it was the only grant awarded to a Colorado arts education program in Spring 2016 by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Students believe the program deserves all the attention it can get.

"Kathy has given us a learning experience, and I genuinely enjoyed it," said sophomore Mason Brewer.

"There was never a dull moment. She made singing and songwriting fun," agreed Ingols.