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Students Show Artistic Talents at SCSD’s Summer Arts Intensive

This is a photo of a group of SCSD students standing in front of a wall outside a building in downtown Syracuse, smiling at the camera.“I’m here, but I’m not going to talk, sing, or dance,” one student quietly insisted to teacher Kelly Klapper as she walked into a drama class this summer.
On the second day, the student had changed her tune.
“Well… I won’t sing or dance, but maybe I could say a few lines.”
By the third day, the student said she was comfortable singing in front of the group.
“That’s what I love about this camp,” Ms. Klapper, a full-time Science teacher at PSLA at Fowler, said. “Seeing that growth in the students is wonderful.”
SCSD students in grades 6-12 were invited to show their creativity and artistic talents – in their own ways – at two-week long Summer Arts Intensive camps, offered at both PSLA at Fowler and Nottingham this summer.
The camp-style programming offered students the opportunity to explore courses in several artistic disciplines, including Visual Arts (2D & 3D), iPad Photography, Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Dance, Drama, Digital Music, or Digital Photography.
“The best thing about this camp is that students have the opportunity to explore different aspects of the arts that they don’t normally get to during the regular school year,” Leigh Parry-Benedict, Orchestra Director at Dr. Weeks, Salem Hyde, and STEAM @ Dr. King, explained. “They have the opportunity to improve upon the skills they have developed in the school year, especially in instrumental music. This year, they even had the opportunity to take a deep dive into digital music – something they ordinarily wouldn’t be doing during the school year!”
Nottingham incoming freshman Lily Smith participated in both an instrumental class – she plays viola – and a visual arts class this summer.

“I’ve enjoyed working with the teachers one-on-one this summer,” she explained. “It’s definitely been more focused time than we get during the school year, which is nice. I’ve gotten lots of tips, like with my viola, how to practice in a more efficient way; and in art, tips on how to improve my painting. If I’m out at night and I see something intriguing or beautiful, I take a picture. I’ve always had the idea to paint one of the pictures, but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to do it!”
Christina Ferlenda, Nottingham Art teacher, said that’s the purpose of the camp: to give students the freedom to take ownership of their own learning and self-direct their creativity.
“They learn how to make art on their own here,” Ms. Ferlenda said. “We help them discover what inspires them and then we come up with a project based on that. I gently guide them with resources and materials, but they are the ones in charge of what they are creating, and I love that.”
 This is a photo of Nottingham student Amiah Crisler holding a mold she made through the Summer Arts Intensive.
Incoming sophomore Amiah Crisler, who wants to be a special effects makeup artist one day, is a perfect example of the self-guided student project. Amiah spent the two-week summer enrichment perfecting a mold that she created, which she uses to create prosthetics to use for special effects makeup.
“The camp has given me the resources to do what I want to do – to create,” she said. “It’s given me the skills and knowledge to do things safely and correctly. This experience is helping me practice my skills and helping me learn to be more detailed and work with different skin tones and shades so I can match prosthetics to more people and so they will work for people of color.”
With Ms. Ferlenda’s guidance, Amiah has experimented with different materials to create prosthetics, which she currently uses for her own Halloween costumes. Eventually, she hopes to hone her craft and sell her prosthetics on Etsy. Currently, she says there are only 3-4 skin tones available in these kinds of products; she hopes to offer five. She also hopes to expand her experimentation into wigs, using prosthetics to create wigs with a wider variety of hair textures.
“Diversity in this area is very lacking,” Amiah explained. “I want to add diversity and give people more options, and this experience is giving me the basis to do that!”
In addition to their daily time to learn and create in the classroom, the students in the Fine Arts Intensive at both PSLA and Nottingham also took a field trip to visit SubCat Studios in downtown Syracuse. There, they were invited to experience the sound booth, learning how a sound engineer manipulates sound.
What a great way to help students share and develop their artistic talents!
Anthony Q. Davis, Superintendent
725 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
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