Students find time to think “outside the box”

Creativity is often defined in an artistic context that emphasizes uniqueness, however, combatting daily issues with creative or unconventional means is more frequent than one might think. In the midst of all the academic stress that accompanies the fourth quarter, students often become so consumed by school that they forget how to express themselves in other mediums. Creativity can be elusive during these times, but students still manage to find outlets for expression outside of the artistic and musical opportunities which St. Paul Academy and Summit School provides. Sophomore Caswell Burr shares his unique form of creative expression. “I like to use Twitter. When an idea pops into my head I’m like boom, tweet.”

While seemingly trivial, social media provides an interesting medium through which one can express an opinion or be creative. Twitter enables Burr to express his unique personality, albeit unconventionally, through a comedic lens.

Are the programs SPA provides conducive to creativity?  Burr and sophomore Will Donaldson agreed that while some facets of the English curriculum afford creative outlets, the programs are rigid. “Even within the English projects that supposedly give you creative freedom, there are still rubrics and other restrictions that confine your ability to truly make it your own,” Donaldson said . Academic restrictions and guidelines for creativity are usually a necessity, which leads students to search for alternative expressive outlets outside of SPA.

Junior Dozie Nwaneri shares his experience at a St. Peter Claver serving food to the homeless. “We’d make up dishes that normally consisted of fish because it was lent and that was all we could serve.  We got creative with the name ‘fresh fillet’ and the style of food was in my control,” he said.  Nwaneri’s culinary creativity satisfies the appetite of the homeless as well as his appetite for expression.

Junior Maddie Flom-Staab works at Theatre E3, where she is a counselor. “I teach the children music and I help them learn it by making it more accessible. I keep them under control and sometimes you have to be pretty creative with activities to keep 30 children in check,” she said. Flom-Staab modifies the music as to best suit a learning environment. Sometimes teaching requires unconventional methods to make the material more accessible to young children and creativity plays a huge role in shaping curriculum.

Junior Laura Viksnins dances at The Saint Paul Latvian School where she has attended for 13 years. “We mainly did folk dance and wore the costumes that were passed down through our families,” Viksnins said. The costumes, and dances themselves, are subject to the creative whim of the Viksnins family.

Junior Mansuda Arora is writing a play for a youth artist festival. She attended a summer institute for social justice and theater where she took classes in preparation for her play. After three years of work, the program gave her free reign to write and direct a one act play, as well as, a budget and actors to work with, “Mostly I want to direct. Writing is a big part, but mainly I piece together my class work and my own thoughts. I like it a lot. You can do theater at school, but here there is more creative input,” she said.  Arora’s creative vision can come now to life through opportunity provided by the program.

Engaging in creative endeavors during times of stress can be difficult, but students at SPA still manage to find outlets that enable them to express a different side of themselves.  While perhaps subdued to the peripheral, the many community activities that students partake in provide an unconventional requirement to creatively approach practical issues. One may not think of these challenges as conducive to creative expression; however the unique manners in which the participants confront challenge remind us that creativity takes many forms that surround us constantly.