On Tuesday, May 31, at 4:30 pm in The Moore Theater of the Hop, at the annual Arts at Dartmouth Awards, about 75 Dartmouth students will receive awards for special achievements in the performing and visual arts, and film and media. It’s a free event, and includes a reprise of the musical number All That Jazz from the Department of Theater’s stellar winter 2016 production of Chicago; the screenings of two short student-made films; and remarks by this year’s guest of honor, Michael Rafter ’82, an Emmy award-winning television and Broadway music director.
Who are these students who use their Dartmouth years to achieve milestones in the arts? Meet one of them!
JIMMY RAGAN ’16, studying music and education, will complete an elementary teaching certificate this fall through the college’s teacher training program in hopes of becoming an educator with a special emphasis on integrating the arts into the day-to-day “academic” curriculum.
From Allentown, PA, Ragan describes himself as a life-long musician from a musical family. A violist and pianist before taking singing seriously in high school, at Dartmouth he has studied voice with Erma Mellinger and sung with the Handel Society and Dartmouth College Glee Club; and was musical director of the a cappella group the Dartmouth Dodecaphonics, a finalist in the 2016 Dartmouth Idol competition, and the 2015 recipient of the Marcus Heiman-Martin Rosenthal ’56 Award for Achievement in the Arts for Ensemble Vocals. This year he’s one of four winners of a Eugene Roitman 942 Memorial Award in music and is winner of the Handel Society Chorus Award. He took the summer course on conducting with Professor Melinda O’Neal and recently conducted an 11-voice ensemble in one of two senior recitals he gave this spring. He is also a member of Alpha Theta Gender-Inclusive Greek House, serving as their treasurer.
Initially expecting to major in government when he came to Dartmouth, Ragan says he felt ill at ease. “I realized that what I wanted was to foster understanding between people. So I took an education course my sophomore year and immediately was drawn to it.” He went on to take an education major, some courses of which include practicums in local public school classrooms. Last winter, facing a term without a classroom practicum, he took part in the Hop’s START (Students Teaching in the Arts) program, and was part of a team working in Mid-Vermont Christian School in Quechee integrating poetry and performance.
“I have been looking at different ways to integrate arts into education other than through formal avenues of music education because the reality right now in public education is music education is being dismantled in a lot of districts, especially the districts that most need it. START was a way for me to look at different ways of integrating core content with different performance media.”
One of his core beliefs is that communities need lots of inclusive, accessible music-making. “I’m hoping that when I’m not in the classroom, I’ll be enriching the local music scene, whether through an afterschool program with kids or evening groups for adults, through religious venues or otherwise—just trying to find opportunities to get people excited about it. There’s a lot of music than can be made in any given area if you can provide people with the opportunities.”