Globally Inspired

Fine Arts Expansion

Can a building transform a community? That question inspired Fine Arts Department Chair Melinda Williams and Middle School Theater Arts teacher Luke Wrobel to seek a faculty grant that would take them on a life-changing adventure to Australia.

The two were familiar with the story of how construction of the iconic Sydney Opera House ignited an arts renaissance in the surrounding area and beyond. In the years since its opening, the architectural masterpiece has reinvigorated artistic life Down Under, shaping not only opera and theater, but also museums, historical monuments, commissioned public artworks, parks, gardens, murals, and street art.

As the opera house shaped Australia’s identity, the Mosing Middle School has the power to transform ROBS’ identity.

Melinda and Luke envisioned that the distinctive Mosing Middle School Building might usher in a similar arts transformation at River Oaks Baptist School. With stunning new spaces for orchestra, choral music, theater, digital arts, and studio art, the facility—which is on track to open in August—redefines the possibilities for ROBS’s offerings. “Our trip to Australia was a 10-day conversation about arts and education. The creativity it unleashed has enabled our department to reimagine our approach to fine arts at ROBS,” says Melinda. “We rethought everything.”

In addition to specialized spaces such as the blue box theater, a new Middle School schedule will afford time for expanded fine arts programming. Starting in fifth grade, all students will be introduced to choir and stringed instruments. From there, students may choose from a wider array of arts offerings including new speech and debate electives. “The changes made possible by the Mosing Middle School Building reflect a new level of commitment to the arts at ROBS,” says Luke. “This evolution will make fine arts another strength of the School, on par with academics and athletics. It throws down the gauntlet to us as arts educators. We’re motivated to live up to the promise of the new building.”

As they relate their experiences in Australia to the future of the arts at ROBS, Melinda and Luke’s enthusiasm is palpable. “The arts are the heart of a community,” says Luke. “As the opera house shaped Australia’s identity, the Mosing Middle School has the power to transform ROBS’s identity,” Melinda adds. “The imagination that has gone into our new building opens up the world for our students. It gives all of us the freedom to soar.”

The faculty grant program enables ROBS teachers to bring ideas from around the world to our school and its students. Melinda Williams and Luke Wrobel received the Eighth Grade Faculty Grant, funded by the Class of 2019.

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