Juan Diego Catholic High School Establishes Academy of Fine Arts
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Already about a dozen freshmen have expressed interest in Juan Diego Catholic High School’s newly developed Academy of Fine Arts.
“It’s an opportunity for freshmen and sophomores to show their interest and commitment to the arts,” Juan Diego theater director Joe Crnich said. “It’s kind of like declaring your major in college. We can help establish the course of study we’d like the students to take in theater, dance, music and art as well as their core classes.”
Juan Diego percussion director Jed Blodgett said that already a large percentage of Juan Diego students are involved in the arts.
“This will help the students organize their class load over four years and balance what they need to do,” he said. “We’ve seen when students are involved in the arts, they do well academically as they are more organized, use their time efficiently and put forth more effort in all their classes so all of their grades go up. We see the arts helping students interact with more people and help them to think creatively.”
The program, which has been discussed for years, took fruition this spring and summer.
“Most of the students already take many of the classes, but it’s a way to make sure there is more focus on them,” Crnich said.
The Academy of Fine Arts students will be expected to complete one of the three fine arts advanced placement courses and two or more years of advanced fine arts classes or ensembles such as advanced art, advanced ceramics, sculpture, advanced dance, dance company, advanced theater, wind symphony, advanced percussion, orchestra and concert choir. Additionally, students are expected to complete courses for each area of focus.
Blodgett said that each student will be assigned a mentor in the Academy of Fine Arts to ensure they are taking the proper classes.
“We want to make sure they are taking AP classes, advanced classes in music, art or theater,” he said.
Students also would be expected to be placed in an internship to gain experience in the community, he said.
Blodgett said that through the internship, students will gain more knowledge and experience in the field as one senior did this past year with an internship in music therapy.
Students in the Academy of Fine Arts also are expected to give service within the department, such as tutoring classmates.
Blodgett also said that students are expected to perform a final project which could range from a recital or portfolio to choreographing an entire show or creating a technical theater design. Each final project will be supported by in-depth research.
“The board will review the courses they’ve taken, their internships, their involvement, their projects, and once it meets with the requirements, then students would receive recognition of the Academy of Fine Arts on their diplomas and transcripts as well as at commencement,” he said.
Blodgett said colleges that already are looking at Juan Diego students will take a closer look with the Academy of Fine Arts.
“We can encourage students to apply for scholarships and entry into programs once we establish them in the Academy of Fine Arts. This past year, every student in the music program received a scholarship for college. We’d like that to expand to all the fine arts students. This program will give our students more legitimacy with the rigor that comes with it. We can push our students to work harder, dig deeper into their crafts so they will understand more of what it will be like in life and in college,” he said.
Blodgett said the program is modeled after the Academy of Sciences, which Juan Diego Catholic High School established several years ago.
Currently enrolled juniors and seniors may apply, but they will be looked at on an individual basis to review what courses they already have taken, Crnich said.
“This is a way of giving recognition to students in the fine arts, similar to a conservancy, and a way to help build our programs. It will help everyone better understand the process of classes we need them to take as well as give, say an acting student, better understanding of reading, projection, music, movement and art,’ Crnich said.
Crnich said students will continue to be involved in at least three years of extracurricular programs — art shows, dance concerts, musical performances and festivals and theater productions and competitions, including students competing this October in the 40th annual Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City before taking the campus stage Nov. 10-12 with the musical “Grease.”