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The Student News Site of Darien High School

Neirad

The Student News Site of Darien High School

Neirad

The mural painting class is available to juniors and seniors who have taken Drawing and Painting 3 and received teacher approval. Before painting the mural students must get the design and location approved with administration.
Music Notes, Statues and a Cow?
Katie Galligan, Journalist • April 14, 2024
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Smoke and boxes: Chris Andrade reveals his secrets about learning

Smoke+and+boxes%3A+Chris+Andrade+reveals+his+secrets+about+learning

There are many things students forget about their teachers, like that they don’t actually live at school and were probably doing the exact same things they tell us not to do at our age. But the most important aspect of teachers we overlook is something Christopher Andrade can tell you a lot about. 

Raised by two parents in academia, Andrade was not surprised that he wanted to follow the same path. But Darien High School’s iconic choir teacher didn’t even join choir until 12th grade, where he realised he still had a lot to learn. 

“I was pretty terrible at [singing],” Andrade laughed. “So I figured I should have some experience before going to college. Luckily I sat next to a sophomore kid who was way better than I was. He’s actually Javier Colon, season one winner of ‘The Voice’.” 

Instead of hiding his inexperience, Andrade used it to seek guidance from Colon. The sophomore helped Andrade improve his technique, even coaching him on his college vocal audition.

And though his high school days are far behind him, Andrade still seeks to emulate the support of his most inspiring teachers, particularly that of his high school music director.

“What I took from him was very much the idea that you put the students first. You have a final product in mind that you want, and then you empower the students to do that,” he said. 

His most recent example is the school’s production of “Hello Dolly.” 

“With the play, we really wanted to get the students to be able to design sets,” he said. “The problem is the way they used to do it around here is they’d say “come up with stuff,” and we’d get a lot of rectangular boxes.”

Over time, Andrade and other musical faculty members trained the set design crew to come up with their own visions and the abilities to execute them. 

“This year, it really was very collaborative,” he said with a smile. “We worked with students who did 3D modeling of the sets, so what you see on stage is really a product of a lot of student problem-solving.”

But even while teaching the set design crew new skills, Andrade still had some of his own to learn.  

“For the train [in “Hello Dolly”], I found a Broadway person who told me ‘CO2 works great for [smoke effects]; you just have to be careful. Here’s what you need to be careful of.’ Now I feel like I can build this safely.” 

While we all eventually learned that teachers don’t actually sleep under their desks at night, we still often forget that teachers are some of the world’s most avid learners. Much of Andrade’s career consisted of applying the lessons he’d learned from others, allowing him to continue passing on his knowledge to others.

“I don’t have all the answers,” he admitted. “But the underpinnings of all my philosophies is that you never stop learning. You stop learning, you die.”

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