In Our Schools Today

Talented student artists shine at Summer Arts Institute

New York City's top student artists hone their skills at Summer Arts Institute

Even though school is out for the summer,
Stuyvesant High School’s halls are alive with the sound of music. The classrooms are also filled with students creating self-portraits, photographs, films, plays, and dances.

In its sixth year, The Summer Arts Institute, organized by the Department of Education’s Office of Arts and Special Projects, provides talented New York City middle and high school students the opportunity to attend a free, intensive program at which they can develop their artistic skills. Many of the students who participate in the Institute go on to specialized arts high schools or arts colleges and conservatories. 

The Institute allows students to specialize in the arts discipline of their choice -- dance, drama, visual art, vocal music, instrumental music, photography, or film. Professional artists and DOE master arts teachers lead the lessons. At the institute, photography students are learning about the proper technique for head-shots, while drama students are rehearsing for their rendition of Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, which they have modified to take place on Ellis Island.   

The Institute is hard work, but Heather O’Donhovan, a vocalist and rising ninth grader at Edward R. Murrow High School, said she enjoys the challenge.  

“It’s vigorous work at this camp, but it’s fun,” she said. 

The Institute was launched in the aftermath of 9/11 to give children an artistic outlet. In addition to the intensive training at Stuyvesant, students benefit from the program’s partnerships with cultural organizations in the City, including Young Audiences New York, American Ballet Theatre, Theater for a New Audience, and the Tribeca Film Institute. Students also take field trips to many of the City’s preeminent cultural attractions, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Opera.  

The DOE's Director of Dance Programs Joan Finkelstein believes the collaboration with City cultural institutions is what makes the program special. “A hallmark of the program is the partnership between the Department of Education and New York City's cultural institutions,” she said.  

Students say attending the Institute is a unique opportunity. 

“It’s a privilege to come here,” Christopher Kwasnik, a rising eighth grader at IS 318 in the Bronx, said. 

The camp culminates in a public exhibition of student art work on July 31 at 6 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. performance.

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