MTSU, Siegel Humanities partnership allows high schoolers to celebrate creativity, community

Feb 13, 2023 at 09:20 pm by WGNS News

Tennessee Performing Arts Center visiting artist/educator Alison Brazil sings one of her original songs in three languages to Siegel Humanities Academy students Jan. 25 during Humanities Week at Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — It was more than an ordinary week recently for Siegel Humanities Academy students at Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee — it was their first Humanities Week. 

The week was packed with fun activities that pushed students to think outside the box, create, communicate their ideas, and bond as a community. It was a week that, according to Siegel student Emma Ridgley, “was beneficial to the school as a whole, showing us that the Humanities Academy is not just about schoolwork and classes but experiencing new things, having fun and learning about different communities.”


The Siegel Humanities Academy started one year ago in partnership with Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Liberal Arts and has hosted 12 “Lunch and Learn” sessions to introduce students to MTSU alumni who share the diverse job opportunities available to people in the humanities.

From the history major serving as COO of Hospitality TN, to the art major serving as art director at Asurion, students learned that majors in the liberal arts do not just lead to one specific job but help students develop skills that apply broadly to many careers. These skills that are in great demand today are the pillars of the academy: creativity, communication, critical thinking and community. 

Melissa LaDuc, dean of the Siegel Humanities Academy, organized the Humanities Week the last full week of January that began with “Wonders of Van Gogh,” a Teacher’s Discovery Traveling Exhibit featuring reproductions of the work of renowned painter Vincent van Gogh. Using this exhibit as his backdrop, Siegel art teacher Brian Pounders led a “Lunch and Learn” about the impact art has on our culture.

The following day, Tennessee Performing Arts Center visiting artist/educator Alison Brazil sang in three languages and discussed the power of language and music to cross barriers. She then led the students to write lyrics for an original Siegel Humanities Academy song. 

At the latter part of the week, students took a field trip to Nashville to watch an independent film on artificial intelligence at The Belcourt Theater and visited the Frist Art Museum. The students ended the week by connecting via Zoom with a school in Uganda and singing with their choir.

Siegel Humanities Academy student Chris Jilek summed up the week well. "I felt like a true part of a diverse community of students working towards a bigger goal — bringing people together to learn about how to make a difference,” Jilek said.

And make a difference, these students will, says MTSU’s Lucy Langworthy, assistant to the College of Liberal Arts dean and an architect in the academy’s creation. “They will be the problem framers who are open to promoting new ideas and bringing people from differing viewpoints together,” Langworthy said.

“Through this partnership, MTSU and Siegel High School are sending an important message to students and the community — that the liberal arts do more than touch our souls. They prepare students with the essential skills for creating an informed, adaptable, and compassionate society.”


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