The 23rd annual Betty Stovall Spectrum of the Arts program was held June 19-29 at E.E. Waddell Language Academy. Students in grades four through eight spent two hours each day intensively studying a primary arts area – visual arts, music, dance, drama or creative writing – and divided the rest of the day between the other areas.
Gigi Roy attended the program for the first time this year, studying dance. Last year, she was a fifth-grader at Myers Park Traditional Elementary and will enter sixth grade at Quail Hollow Middle in the fall.
"It sounded really fun and I love dance," Gigi said. "It was a great opportunity for me. I thought we would do just one type of dance but it's so diverse, and all the areas tie together with one theme."
The arts program is also a unique outlet for teachers. They can be creative, plan together and collaborate across areas.
"It's a time for teachers to be innovative, too and they have the whole school year where they can test their plans in their classrooms," said program director Trinette Atri, a secondary specialist for Talent Development/Advanced Studies/AVID.
This was the first year at Spectrum for dance instructor Megan Zugelder-May, who last year coached the Winding Springs Elementary dance team to a first-place finish at the Star Dance Alliance World Championship. Joining the program was an easy decision, she said.
"I had heard amazing things about the program and they are all true," Zugelder-May said. "The staff takes everything to the next level. Dance is my life and being able to share with these kids, it's the perfect summer opportunity. I get to do what I love."
Students are nominated for the program by their schools' arts teachers. This year's theme was Passport to the Imagination, which provided the framework for a student performance on the final day of the program.
"Students don't have to be gifted but they must be talented in their area," Atri said. "Most of them are multitalented, so it's hard to decide on just one major."
Spectrum is in demand. Visual arts accepts 45 students, while each of the other areas accepts 30 students. Participants have the option to return each year and most will stay until they age out of the program in ninth grade. But it doesn't always end there – eight high school-age alumni came back this year as interns to assist teachers.
"Typically, we have a waitlist of over 100 kids," Atri said. "We tell our students that being here is an honor and a privilege – there are lots of kids who would love to be here."