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Two Schools Dance Into Creative Liaison

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by James Hill

If it worked once in 1974, why not try it again 25 years later? When Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus partnered with Jefferson High School’s dance program in the mid-1970s, it produced an enriching opportunity for students of both institutions that still runs strong today.

Now, PCC Rock Creek has done the same with the Beaverton Arts and Communication High School in 1999.

Peter Hirsch, who is the dean of the Business and Humanities Division at the Rock Creek Campus, developed a partnership with the high school’s principal Paula Kinney and its community development leader Judy Chown. Both Kinney and Chown were instrumental in setting up the Jefferson-Cascade relationship. The Arts and Communication’s noted dance and music programs will now offer PCC students a chance to learn from its instructors in seven classes that began winter term at the high school – which became a fully accredited arts and communication magnet in 1997.

"It’s probably something that will be a long standing relationship," Hirsch said. "It’s quite a wonderful opportunity for our students. The whole idea is to provide an opportunity for our students at Rock Creek that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them."

Hirsch said Kinney and Chown approached him earlier this year about creating a partnership. The fact that both had been involved with the Cascade-Jefferson relationship years ago helped make this next agreement easy. If all goes well, Hirsch indicated the relationship could result in more classes between the two schools in the future.

Three teachers from Arts and Communication High School will instruct seven college-level courses in dance that will cover tap, jazz, modern, and dance tech. Chown said the mix of high school and college students would enable them to learn from each other, not just the instructor.

"The adults will get the enthusiasm of the high school students and those students can observe the older students who may have danced before," Chown said. "It’s also a chance to encourage our students to go to PCC as they become familiar with it. We have an unique draw of students for a particular focus and we are really excited about this."

The classes that will be taught by the high school’s instructors include chamber ensemble, dance techniques, modern dance, tap, jazz dance, and dance performance. Introduction to drawing will be taught by a PCC instructor.

The chamber ensemble class is particularly useful since PCC Rock Creek doesn’t have the facilities to house that kind of course, said Hirsch.

For more information on this partnership, please contact Judy Chown at (503) 672-3700, ext.9. The Beaverton Arts and Communication High School is located at 11375 SW Center Street in Beaverton, Oregon.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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