Fine Arts Academy offers
area students new opportunity
opens school within a school
to train future artists
(May 2012) What profession employs more people
than the fields of medicine, law or agriculture? The arts.
As Indiana education officials find it necessary to cut funding for
art classes, area high schoolers face fewer options when breaking away
from math drills and language exercises. As a result, such cuts deprive
children of core training for one of the largest career fields available.
by Tess Worrell
Kelsey is leading the effort
to establish the Fine Arts Academy.
Encompassing careers such as actors, architects, artists,
animators, choreographers, photographers and authors, the arts offer
a wide variety of occupational choices. All this makes Madison Consolidated
High Schools creation of a Fine Arts Academy both exciting for
students and forward thinking for career development in the Madison,
To help supplement arts education in Madison, arts teacher Aaron Kelsey
has led an effort to create the Madison Consolidated High School Fine
Arts Academy. It is scheduled to open in fall 2012. Interested students
are being asked to submit an application for admission now to the high
school office and begin this school within a school in the
fall. Students follow the core program through the high school but add
a specific focus in the arts through a series of required additional
classes. Completion of the Academy requirements earns students a special
distinction for their diploma.
The Academy grew out of a concern over the deep cuts in arts education
in schools throughout the area, Kelsey said. Because of
Madisons unique and strong ties to the arts (three community theaters,
a professional art gallery, several pottery shops, and numerous resident
artists), we saw the opportunity to use community strengths to prepare
students to join the arts community.
The high school has already placed students in numerous post-secondary
fine arts programs at a number of colleges throughout the region and
the nation, gleaning the needed insights to launch a program designed
to hone the talent necessary to excel in these programs. The Academy
is the culmination of that preparation.
Students begin the program their freshman year by taking the Fine
Arts Connections course. This provides the common foundation for
students who then branch into their area of interest. Options include
instrumental music, vocal music, theatre, and visual arts. Each specialty
has its own core set of courses. As students pursue their academic preparation
for college through core high school courses, they also hone their arts
credentials through the Academy courses. Courses allow students to polish
audition skills, develop a broad portfolio, or focus on musical techniques.
All participants complete their training with their own senior project
a concert, one-man-show, art display or other focus that
allows the student to exhibit the skills he or she has developed.
Because of cuts in funding for the arts in other school systems, the
Academy hopes to draw not only local students but also students from
other Indiana school systems who can now transfer to any Indiana school
tuition-free. Students from Kentucky are also welcome, but they will
have to pay a fee to attend. The Counseling Office can offer full details
of the procedure for enrolling for all interested students.
To enroll, students simply need to complete the application which is
available from the counseling department at the high school or can be
downloaded at www.madison.k12.in.us. Submit the application to the counselors
office, and a member of the art faculty will contact the student.
All Academy students must complete the Fine Arts Connection
course, a minimum of 10 fine arts credits, a minimum of 3 service hours
each year, and either AP Art History, AP Studio Art, or AP Music Theory.
(If upper class students want to enroll in the Academy, they must have
10 electives available for completing the fine arts courses.)
The Academy looks to both broaden scope and increase depth in training
in the coming years. As the Academy develops, organizers hope to include
visiting artists to add practical, real-life perspectives to the training.
Another key goal is to expand the offerings to include a focus on dance.
The Academy notes that the benefits of participation go far beyond preparation
for a career in the arts students develop a creative way
of thinking. As they do, they learn to make good judgments in whatever
situations they face, to appreciate diverse perspectives and work within
them, to think through complex circumstances and develop unique approaches,
and to communicate in ways that go far beyond words.
Whether one celebrates an increased focus on arts training for the enrichment
of the Madison community or celebrates the focus on preparing students
for viable careers beyond high school, the Academy offers a unique,
much-needed addition to academic training for local students, school
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