Now entering its fourth decade in operation, the Adda Clevenger School has established itself as one of the many educational alternatives that make the San Francisco Bay Area such a unique and special place to raise children, and to grow up.
While many schools are able to meet the needs of most children, Adda Clevenger was founded to meet the needs of children whose demands for scholastic challenge, creative expression, physical activity and mental stimulation were not adequately addressed by mainstream programs.
The motivation for starting the Adda Clevenger School was the simple insight that bright, creative and energetic children have unique educational needs. Yet we soon discovered that almost all children have the potential to be bright, creative and energetic when placed in an environment where excellence, individuality and achievement are encouraged and celebrated.
It is for this reason that the performing arts curriculum, together with live performance, is an integral and essential part of the education of our students. In rehearsals, students overcome their natural inhibition and fear of making mistakes in front of their peers. In performances, students learn to function as members of a cast whose individual contributions fundamentally determine the success or failure of the undertaking.
The teamwork, individual responsibility and appreciation for quality that students learn in the context of performance transfer directly to the classroom in the context of their academic subjects. Students begin to take the same pride in the quality of their classroom performance as they do in their public performance. A natural, healthy spirit of competition serves to move the class forward at the pace of the most advanced students, accelerating academic progress for the class as a whole.
But perhaps the most significant benefit of the educational experience, and one which Adda Clevenger alumni often cite as the most memorable aspect of their elementary school years, is the spirit of cooperation and camaraderie that develops not only between students in the same class but among students throughout the entire school.
Certainly the size of the school, the personal nature of the instruction, and the unifying experiences of the shows and tours contribute enormously to our sense of community. But another important ingredient, in our view, is the opportunity our students have to explore their creativity without censure and to pursue the objects of their intellectual curiosity without artificial restraint – in short, to be themselves.
It is particularly gratifying as the school passes its thirty year mark to see more and more alumni returning to Adda Clevenger with children of their own. I can hardly imagine a better, more meaningful endorsement of the school’s philosophy, approach to education and commitment to children than this. It reminds us that the elementary school years, no less than high school and college, are fundamental to every child’s development but also surprisingly brief, and we do well to make the most of these critical years, for our students today and for the generations to come.