Lorain Arts Academy debuts at PAC
Posted May 10, 2017 in Articles
Author: Carol Harper, The Morning Journal
A mystery smell, singing in sign and karate belts intertwined with imaginations as Lorain Arts Academy showed off talent May 10 at Lorain High School.
The students participated in multi-disciplines of arts instruction for 14 weeks in a Lorain Arts Academy at New Beginnings Academy at 307 W. 7th St. in Lorain.
A culminating performance brought 22 elementary students to the big stage at Lorain Performing Arts Center.
“This is far more than an after school art education program,” said Darren Hamm, 38, executive director of Oberlin Center for the Arts, a co-collaborator with Lorain City Schools and the Nord Family Foundation to create the program.
“I hope everybody sees just how much work these students have put in over the past 14 weeks,” Hamm said. “It’s a good opportunity for students to highlight their multi disciplines of choral, orchestral, instrumental, visual arts and acting. I think it’s wonderful these families get to see just how wonderful these students are. I’m a visual artist and a musician. Art has allowed me to express myself and find new ways to learn. It can be the same for these students.”
Lorain Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Graham said the idea for the LAA sparked when he and John Mullaney, executive director of Nord Family Foundation, listened to students perform at a community event.
Many organizations collaborated with the district to build the program: Firelands Association for the Visual Arts; The MAD Factory; Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra; Oberlin Choristers; Oberlin Center for the Arts; Nord Family Foundation; First Student; and Boys and Girls Clubs of Lorain County.
Strings teacher Katie Holaway said she became involved because of her early opportunities.
“I was fortunate enough to have strings education in my schools,” said Holaway, 32. “I learned to play cello in fifth grade in Lakewood. I want to give kids the opportunity to learn instruments and ultimately to learn to love music. A lot of these kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn these instruments in elementary school, so it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.”
Holaway also teaches music at Avon Lake Middle School and Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra.
The five “karate belts” served as rewards for mastering certain techniques on the violin.
Luke Lentini, 21, is a junior at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He provided special help to students.
“Teaching kids is always a valuable experience,” Lentini said. “In a way it brings me back to when I was a kid and I was much younger than they are. It teaches me a lot about patience. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s really been great. (Holaway) has been great. One of the most valuable things is watching them learn and seeing their work translate into a moment of ‘Aha!’ for a kid.”
The students brought energy and imagination to the practices.
Nine-year-old Ivy Olejko is a third grade student at Hawthorne Elementary School.
‘I like coming here, because it’s fun, and I get to hang out with some friends I used to have, but they moved,” Ivy said. “I learned how to play a violin, make new artwork, how to act out movies. I’ve learned to make songs. My favorite is the violin, because it’s something you can learn when you get older if you want to play an instrument. I want to follow my brother’s footsteps, because he used to play violin. And I want to be a teacher.”
Eleven-year-old Dominic Silva is a fifth-grade student at Palm Elementary.
“I think the program is a chance for me to learn something new, like violin, drama, art and choir,” Dominic said. “I honestly think all of them are my favorite, because they all teach me something different.
“There are two different groups. In my group we made this one movie about gas pollution or something like that,” Dominic said. “There are different characters that are trying to solve it. When I grow up I want to be a doctor.”
Ten-year-old Mayrely Mendoza is in fifth grade at Palm Elementary.
“I think it’s really fun,” Mayrely said. “We learn lots of stuff here, and the classes are really educational and fun and they’re so exciting. I don’t have a favorite. It’s hard to choose from all the classes. I’ve learned new songs on the violin and choir. I’ve actually learned how to not be that shy, also. This helped me to be more exciting and to do more stuff. I want to be a teacher or a pastry chef; baking yummy stuff is very exciting. It’s something I’ve learned seeing my mom cooking.”
Eleven-year-old Jvayre Phillips is a fifth-grade student at Hawthorne Elementary.
“I think it’s nice,” Jvayre said, “because we get free gym sometimes and we act out and do games in drama, and we sing sometimes in Spanish for a concert coming up. I like art the best. You do fun projects. We used pastels. We did a folding project. When you open it the mouth comes up. I want to be a basketball player.”