Mulvey School Choir

Mulvey School Choir performed at Art in the Heart of the City at Calvary Temple. (Stacie Edgar)

A couple of years ago, Jane Santa Ana was very shy, but singing helped change that. Today, Santa Ana is in Grade 6 at Mulvey School and a member of the school choir. 

'You actually get to see a different side of students when you put them in a performing arts position.' - Wanita MacKenzie

This morning her choir - and all the schools in the Inner City School District - put on a big concert at Calvary Temple called "Art in the Heart of the City - a Festival of Student Learning in the Creative Arts."

The event involved 450 students singing, dancing drumming and pow wow dancing.

Santa Ana said she was excited but nervous on stage. "I was just thinking of how to make people happy and put a smile on their faces," she said.

She even got to sing a solo in their song, "Don't Stop Believin" by Journey. "I was really nervous. I was like, 'I can do this, I can do this.'" She said singing in the choir has made her more confident and comfortable on stage.

Jane Santa Ana and Wanita MacKenzie

Jane Santa Ana and her music teacher Wanita MacKenzie. (Janice Moeller/CBC)

This is the first time for "Art in the Heart of the City." Wanita MacKenzie, music teacher at Mulvey School, said the idea came about a couple of years ago when students from the Inner City District got to watch students from elsewhere in the city perform at the Manitoba Legislature. She wanted to make it happen in the inner city and had the full support of superintendent Karin Seiler.

"The goal is to have students see other students perform and see what's possible for them, for younger ones to see older students perform and for older students to see younger students perform and to get peer role models and to get onto the stage and to focus on the arts," said MacKenzie.

She said it is really important to emphasize the arts and she's proud of the exciting arts program in the inner city. 

"For a lot of students, that is a way to get them out of their shell," she continued. "You actually get to see a different side of students when you put them in a performing arts position."

She says in the five years she's been teaching music at Mulvey School she's noticed what a huge difference the arts is making.

"It's improved student attendance, it allows students to show a part of themselves that they don't get to show all the time. It builds their confidence, it's a home - school connection and a fantastic community - school connection," she said.

"It's been a very exciting day."