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Forget School of Rock, this Auckland college now has a School of Imagination

Sacred Heart College opened its music-focused School of Imagination last week. Play It Strange CEO Mike Chunn says it a guiding light for how schools can nurture and embrace creativity.

The opening of the School of Imagination at Sacred Heart College last week is the great leap forward for the creative pursuits of the young men that attend that school. But it’s much bigger than that.

With a high class theatre, recording studio, songwriting rooms, rehearsal rooms, guitars, amplifiers, drum kits, keyboards, a knowledge centre, and a raft of orchestral instruments, the School of Imagination means that the school’s sporting and academic focus are now matched by the focus, respect and funding accorded to artistic endeavours.

And it’s not just a performing arts centre. Songwriting isn’t a performance art. Neither are poetry, playwriting and so on. They lead to performance but what underpins those final stages of taking it to the people are the phases of turning ideas of the mind and heart into reality.

Many secondary schools in New Zealand produce stage musicals that come from overseas. Grease, Sound of Music, Oklahoma, etc. You’ve seen them. Why don’t they write their own? What could be more inclusive of a community of creative individuals than the staging of an original musical?

A libretto is written, songs are written, actors act, singers sing, musicians play, a director directs, artists design and build stage sets, audio/lighting technicians produce the front-of-house sound/lighting, recording and audio visual engineers record and produce videos of the performances. And there it is. For all to see and hear.

The School of Imagination is a model for the future. As well as purchasing skiffs, goal posts, footballs, sporting clobber, oars, vans, gym equipment, rowing and scrum machines, a school can now establish centres like the School of Imagination because once they are up and running, the school becomes the complete centre of learning, mentoring, experience, community effort, celebration, reward and life.

It’s a simple concept. It just needs a school to believe in the power of the imagination and to make it happen – just like they did at Sacred Heart.


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