Z-block classes boost focus and energy


Juniors Alice Foster and Eli Levin and sophomore Christian Gaehde participate in a Z-block ceramics class. SAM KLEIN / SAGAMORE STAFF

Iman Khan, Staff Writer

Her eyes are tempted to shut, as she mumbles a goodbye to her father in the car. The heels of her sneakers drag, her body barely able to withstand the sudden weight of the trumpet. As she enters the classroom, she looks up at the other tired faces and, surprisingly, she smiles. She looks at the faces that mirror hers, but still manage to do what they committed to. They all wanted to be there as a group, as a community.

Some Performing Arts classes take place during Z-blocks about two or three times a week. This can be difficult, but prioritizing commitments helps students learn efficient time management. Whether that is getting all of their homework done the night before or going to sleep a little bit early, these students put aside their instinctual feelings, and instead go to school early to perform passionately.

Trumpet player and sophomore Samuel Davies said that that although drowsiness can affect one’s ability to reach a high note at 7:30 a.m., many students have already been accustomed to early wake-ups.

“You do have to get up early, but it’s not that bad. There’s a wide variety of skill,” Davies said.

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For junior Naomi Goodheart, choral music has always been a part of her life.

“I’m really interested in Camerata. I really like choral music, and I’ve been doing it since I was in elementary school,” Goodheart said.

Instrumental Music teacher Carolyn Castellano said that she does not think that the timing of the classes should be an issue, considering the great amount of work that gets done.

“I think it works fine. I’ve been doing the Z-blocks here since 2002 or something. It’s a little drowsy, but people play. It’s not unbearable at all,” Castellano said.

Senior Eddie Cipullo said that he agrees with this sentiment of being able to combat tiresome mornings. According to Cipullo, Castellano uses different tactics to help increase the energy level on slower mornings.

“Our band director makes sure that we all get out of our seats and engage physically during the class,” Cipullo said. “That includes breathing exercises, which help musically, but it serves a dual purpose of getting people energized during band.”

According to senior Camille Whyte, there are numerous benefits ranging from more available students to more challenging, yet informative classes. Whyte said that Z-block Camerata could help her to get into a Conservatory program later on in life.

“I have learned a lot in this class. Just about music and techniques, so that’s been really helpful, even if I don’t personally plan to be a professional singer. For people who do, it’s a very helpful thing to be a part of,” Goodheart said.

Misconceptions about Z-blocks may deter some students from joining. Attendance is required, but certain situations can make it negotiated. Castellano said that she believes her policies regarding attendance are understanding but firm.

“They’re allowed, each quarter, four absences where I mark them absent, but it won’t affect their grade,” Castellano said. “Once it gets past that, they lose points off their participation grade because the class is an ensemble; it’s not like you go into your own work.”

Castellano also emphasizes the importance of communication between her and her students.

It’s important that they’re there. If people communicate to me, I’m usually pretty flexible,” Castellano said.

Students like sophomore Clarice Pertel find their Z-block classes to be enjoyable and helpful with their interests in the arts. She emphasizes this when praising a benefit of her Orchestra class.

“I feel like I can concentrate better after I’ve had that class, especially since it’s a music class; it’s not an academic class. It’s relaxing,” Pertel said.