Central Education Sits at a Global Crossroads

Group of students standing on a stage

A visit by a delegation of Danish students was one of several recent global connections by students and teachers and Central Academy and Central Campus.

Not only do Central Academy and Central Campus serve students from across the entire school district, they sit at a global crossroads too. Just last week a delegation of German students returned from a 10-day educational junket to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. Students annually travel between here and Japan. In October, the Afghanistan Ambassador to the United States made a visit to campus. And last fall Central Academy social studies teachers Diane Fox and Jason Danielson escorted DMPS students overseas in continuation of a longstanding exchange program between Des Moines Public Schools and their counterparts in Hjorring, Denmark.

This week they’re returning the Danish favor by hosting those who hosted them.

The Danes arrived last weekend and on Tuesday a morning visit to Walnut Street School and an afterschool program, Celebration of American Music, in the auditorium at Central Campus highlighted their whirlwind itinerary.

A distinguished history teacher by day, Danielson is also an accomplished jazz pianist by night. Tuesday’s program included an original composition of his, dedicated to the Danes in repayment of their hospitality from earlier in the school year. Also participating were Roosevelt’s Bridges to Harmony Gospel Choir and Hoover’s jazz band.

But the featured element was Danielson’s septet performing his Dansk Sonate, or Danish Sonata, comprised of four moody movements, each named for a city the locals visited last fall: Skagen, Aalborg and Copenhagen in addition to the host city of Hjorring.

It’s hard to believe that Danielson’s teaching discipline isn’t music when you see him perform, which he regularly does on the local jazz scene. His original pieces reduced a vast high school auditorium to the intimacy of a joint like the one in the lobby of a Denmark hostel where the DMPS globetrotters listened to a trio last fall.

“I didn’t want to teach music,” the maestro said after Tuesday’s concert, “I just wanted to play it.” Not to mention composing, as in this case of the Dansk Sonate. “Besides, music and history are intertwined. Trust me, we hear a lot of music in my classroom.”

Besides the homage of an original composition performed in their honor, the Danish visitors will have visited Central Academy classrooms, toured Des Moines and sampled some Danish-American heritage in Elk Horn when their host families bid them “sikker rejser” tomorrow and they head for a two-day stopover in Chicago en route back home.

Consider the potpourri of passports represented by students who come here from all over the world, whether in search of a new life or just for a reciprocal visit. It’s apparently true, to paraphrase an old maxim, that if you build a better school district the world will beat a path to your door.

Photos from Central Concert with Danish Students


Published on