Welcome back to Humans of Queen Elizabeth, Knights! We’re happy to be back, and we hope all of you had an amazing holiday. We’ve entered 2021, and the first person to be featured in the New Year is Alora Purnell. Alora is a current student at Queen Elizabeth in her grade twelve year, and a proud member of the fine arts program within our school. She plays multiple instruments including the piano and the French horn, and was a part of The Wizard of Oz, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Annie, three plays that were performed by Drama students in the last few years. As an advocate for the fine arts, Alora told us about how she’s been involved in the arts program at Queen Elizabeth and the inspiration behind her decision to participate.
“I’ve been involved in the fine arts at Queen Elizabeth since my first year of high school, when I joined the Instrumental Band and Drama classes. Prior to the pandemic, music ran in the mornings before the regular school schedule started, and it was a full year class. I took Band in both grade ten and grade eleven, and Drama for one semester in grade ten and the full year in grade eleven. My inspiration for joining Band came from my family and my background in music. I’ve been surrounded by music for my whole life, and I fell in love with it when I started playing the piano when I was five or six years old. My older sister was a part of the band at Queen E as well, and I thought it would be a cool experience. I joined Drama because I had watched my siblings perform in musicals and I wanted to try out acting for myself. My first chance to get into it was in high school, and I was excited to learn as much as possible.”
The arts can have such an important impact on people’s lives, and Alora recognizes that her time in the fine arts changed her high school experience.
“The fine arts program at Queen E has made high school so much easier for me because I have met so many of my friends in both classes. During band camps and trips, you build a strong connection with your classmates because you spend so much time with them and have to work together to make music that sounds complete. With Drama, preparing for performances means spending all day practicing and working with the same people, and the time goes by much faster when you’re among friends. Though it may be harder to keep in touch with some of them now, especially since some have graduated and school has been changed with the pandemic, my friends in Band and Drama made the scary transition to high school a lot better.”
Any student knows that the quality of a class depends on who’s teaching it, and when it comes to music at Queen Elizabeth, Alora and other students have enjoyed Band so much because of their teacher.
“I think that the main reason why the fine arts are different at each high school is because the classes are taught by different teachers, and our teacher at Queen E is amazing. Mrs. Hart is excellent at teaching music and creating a fun but focused atmosphere in class. When we travel to other schools or go to festivals, someone always mentions how well she’s taught our band. In her class, playing the French horn has given me such a higher understanding of the different keys that instruments play in, and how to transcribe to a common key. By learning theory from Mrs. Hart, I know how other instruments translate into the whole band to create a unified piece of music.”
When asked about her favorite experiences from learning music and drama, Alora had trouble deciding one memory that shone above the rest.
“I’ve had so many amazing experiences in Band and Drama and made so many good memories, it would be impossible to choose just one! In Band, we’ve been on a few different trips, but I guess the one that stands out the most to me was when we went to Red Deer for a band festival in grade ten. Performing for the festival was so incredible because we got to deliver a more formal, solid performance in front of multiple judges and a new audience. During the same trip, we visited another high school in Airdrie and had the opportunity to play with them for one of their Band classes. It was super cool to play as a part of a larger band because ours at Queen E is much smaller than most, and larger bands have different ways of working together and different instruments, such as the oboe. In Drama, the days of the play performances are my favorite, because we spend the entire day from nine in the morning to nine in the evening together in preparation for the production. I have so many memories from these days, and I couldn’t pick a favorite performance day out of the three productions I’ve been part of.”
As our time came to a close, I asked Alora to share some wisdom for new students considering the fine arts at Queen Elizabeth, and she gave this advice.
“For anyone who is interested in joining the fine arts program but is unsure, I would tell you to just go for it and try it out. Both Drama and Band are so inviting, and people with zero experience are always welcome to come and learn. I started out in Drama with no acting experience at all, but your other classmates accept your flaws because there is no judgement at Queen E, and no need to be perfect. I want to say thank you to Mrs. Hart and Mr. Janzen for being such amazing teachers, and for helping me learn so many new things in music and drama.”
The fine arts program at Queen Elizabeth may be small, but it’s full of students who love learning about the arts and being able to express themselves through creativity.
For more stories about Queen E students, staff, and alumni, keep an eye on The Knight’s Post. As well, make sure to follow Queen E on Instagram at @queenelizabethhs
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