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 UMD News Releases

Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

February 10, 2009
Susan Beasy Latto, Director, UMD Public Relations 218 726-8830
Jack Bowman, Dean UMD School of Fine Arts 218 726-7033
Kathleen Neff, Director, UMD Fine Arts Academy 218 726-7090

UMD Voyageurs Performing Lively, Innovative Musical Programs
In Area Schools
Teaching Health and Safety to Children

School Performance Schedule Included Here

NOTE: Must contact Kathleen Neff (Contact info above) for arrangements to visit schools

The exciting and dynamic UMD VOYAGEURS have been singing and dancing their way through the Duluth Public Schools and Proctor Public Schools entertaining and educating elementary school students about important matters of Healthy Living and Intelligent/Safe Choices. The shows are getting rave reviews from students, teachers and principals alike.

UMD Voyageurs.
Front row, left to right: Jenna Colaizy, Greg Dokken, Elizabeth Steffensen, Jennifer Graupmann, Brishelle Jacobs, and Christine Hawkins
Back row, left to right: Eric Biglake, Vince Osborn, and Robert Taylor Baggott IV

The program kicked off in mid-October, and thus far the UMD troupe has performed for approximately 2,300 children (kindergarten through 5th grade) and also visited 100 classrooms. That number includes visits to all Duluth and Proctor elementary schools.

The innovative new program is a creative partnership of the UMD School of Fine Arts together with SMDC Health System and HealthPartners with the purpose of providing Health and Personal Safety Information to children and adolescents---through theatrical song and dance performances and interactive participation. Thanks to the generous support of SMDC Health System and HealthPartners, the exciting musical learning shows are provided at no charge to the schools.

The UMD VOYAGEURS is a troupe of nine graduate students from the UMD Department of Music selected from around the country from auditions held last spring. The UMD students are earning their Masters of Music degree with an emphasis in performance. The UMD creative collaborative team is made up of local writers, composers, set designers, costume designers. The creative director is Cal Metts.

All scripts are original.

After the performances the UMD VOYAGEURS troupe goes into classrooms to visit with students and teachers about the topics included in the shows. They also provide teaching kits and materials for students to bring home.

In preparing the original material for each of the shows, the UMD Department of Music creative team meets regularly with a panel of experts in the fields of health--including doctors, nutritionists, social workers, and psychologists--as well as teachers, parents and principals from various schools.

the subjects for the original shows range from:


and will include issues such as:


Tuesday, Feb 11, 1:30 pm - Lincoln Park Elementary

Thursday, Feb 12, 9:00 am - Rockridge Elementary

Friday, Feb 13, 9:00 am - Lester Park Elementary

Thursday, Feb 19, noon - Club 25 Rotary (public schools not in session this week)

Tuesday, March 10, 9:00 & 1:30 - Stowe Elementary

Tuesday, March 24, 9:30 & 1:30 - Lowell Elementary

Friday, March 27, 9:30 - Pike Lake Elementary

Tuesday, March 31, 9:00 & 1:30 - Laura McArthur Elementary

Plans are to perform for middle schools and high schools beginning fall of 2009. The ultimate goal is to showcase original performances by the UMD Voyageurs to an audience of 37,000 students in grades K-12 by June 2010.

Quotes from participating partners:

"Fusing the energy and drama of musical performance with current issues faced by children and youth today is an exciting and effective way to teach and to enrich the student experience," said UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin. "UMD is proud and excited to launch this creative and important new program in our schools."

"SMDC Health System is pleased to be a sponsor of this innovative new partnership with the Duluth area schools bringing important health information to students in kindergarten through high school. We are deeply committed to this community and to the health and well-being of its children and youth," said Rocky Chapin, Executive Vice President, SMDC Health System.

"Teaching children about health habits such as good nutrition and exercise is really important in setting lifelong patterns," stated Andrea Walsh, HealthPartners executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "It is the key to preventing chronic disease and keeping health care affordable."

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