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State arts camp wrapping up amid uncertain future
HUNTINGTON - The bulk of the focus of the Governor's School for the Arts at Marshall University has been on expanding the capabilities and creativity of 112 of West Virginia's most talented young artists.
However, in the back of the minds of many of the instructors and participants of the three-week academy has been the question of whether they'll be able to get together and host the camp again next year amid budget cuts from the state.
Saturday, July 15, will be the last day of this year's GSA. The school's participants and instructors will present a recital to their families and friends, culminating their work at the camp in their respective disciplines: dance, instrumental music, theater, visual arts, vocal music, creative writing and digital media.
While they're preparing and hoping for stellar performances at the recital, they're also concerned about whether that performance will be the last one of its kind.
"Other young artists deserve to have this opportunity when they're my age," said 16-year-old Faith Richter, a rising junior at Wheeling Park High School. "I have grown more in these three weeks than I could've ever imagined was possible. It has inspired me so much and shown me that, to all the people who say you shouldn't pursue a career in the arts or you need to have a backup plan - no, you don't, and even in a state where you might not feel supported, there are others out there like you who do want to do this, and everyone here is so talented, amazing and dedicated."
From the state's perspective, the GSA is under the umbrella of the Department of Education and the Arts. In the fiscal year 2018 budget, the department was cut 34 percent.
That means the school will be cut, but no one knows for sure how much or what it will mean for the future of the program, said Dreama Pritt, an English professor at Marshall and the assistant dean of the GSA.
"We're not sure how that's going to play out," Pritt said. "We are changing people's lives, and it's not just changing the lives of the students. It's going to be changing the lives of people in their communities when they go back."
The school began in 1994 through an initiative from then-Gov. Gaston Caperton and then-Superintendent of Schools Henry Marockie, according to a news release from Marshall.
Students are chosen for the camp through a selective application and audition process that takes place each winter. The camp is open to students who are between their sophomore and junior years of high school.
This year, auditions took place in January in Morgantown, Charles Town and South Charleston.
"These are the top students in the state in these disciplines," Pritt said. "Many of the students we auditioned had never been out of their counties before. This is really broadening their horizons and giving them larger clumps of what the art world is like and what the arts can do in their lives and their communities."
In addition to the teaching and rehearsal with arts educators from throughout the state, students took a four-day trip to Chicago, where they participated in workshops with various arts entities and attended performances of the Blue Man Group and the Chicago Symphony.
The theme of this year's camp was "Community Collaborating Through the Arts," and the goal of the school was to develop stronger artists, empower students with collaborative skills and introduce students to strategies that employ the arts to positively influence their communities, according to the news release.
It's the kind of experience Ryan Phipps, a 20-year-old cello performance major at Marshall and resident adviser at the school, said he didn't have growing up in Orange County, California.
"I think it's absolutely amazing that this state has this program," said Phipps, who moved to Parkersburg when he was 15 and attended the GSA as a student at Parkersburg High School. "It helps expand our musical culture and art culture as it relates to West Virginia, which is cool. It's not California art. It's not Chicago art or New York art. It's West Virginia art."
Follow reporter Lacie Pierson on Twitter @LaciePiersonHD.
Students attending the Governor's School for the Arts at Marshall University:
Kayla Acrod, Liberty High School
Farrah Ahmed, Woodrow Wilson High School
Anna Allman, Wheeling Park High School
Olivia Almond, Woodrow Wilson High School
Manavi Anantula, Morgantown High School
Madelyn Anderson, Putnam County
Alexander Andrews, Morgantown High School
Afton Aulick, Wheeling Park High School
Kathryn Aultman-Moore, University High School
Allie Bailey, Poca High School
Evan Ballard, Scott High School
Julia Battle, George Washington High School
Raeanne Beckner, Bridgeport High School
Lynn Bittorf, Hedgesville High School
Indiah Bleher, Morgantown High School
Tanner Boeckmann, Martinsburg High School
Madison Bolyard, Lewis County High School
Madeline Boyd, Woodrow Wilson High School
Sydney Butler, Hedgesville High School
Callia Byard, Bridgeport High School
Hannah Carroll, Hannan High School
Stacie Carte, Capital High School
Marissa Carter, Putnam County
Gwyneth Cartwright, Hurricane High School
Jordan Ceglar, Parkersburg South High School
Emma Chase, Trinity Christian School
Emma Chua, Elkins High School
Laura Cifala, Jefferson High School
Daniel Coffield, Charleston Catholic High School
Sophie Coffman, Parkersburg High School
Kayla Conner, Jefferson High School
Daniel Corley, Elkins High School
Matthew Cortines, Oak Hill High School
Darby Criss, East Fairmont High School
Nathaniel Cubellis, Jefferson High School
Michael DiBacco, Elkins High School
Haley Evans, Washington High School
Xavier Evans, South Harrison High School
Haley Fletcher, Tyler Consolidated High School
Isabella Fox, Washington High School
Isabella Gibson, Notre Dame High School
Samantha Goette, Nicholas County, home schooled
Alexandra Griffith, Frankfort High School
Sabriel Haggerty, Keyser High School
Allysun Hammond, Elkins High School
Jonathan Harrell, Capital High School
Jami Hartman, Washington High School
Wilson Harwood, Mountain View Christian School
Aya Hobeika, George Washington High School
Samantha Hoffman, Jefferson High School
Sumer Hughes, Hannan High School
Vera Insixiengmay, Washington High School
Robert Irvin, Wheeling Park High School
Irene Javier, Cabell Midland High School
Morgan Johnson, Hedgesville High School
Electra Judson, Jefferson High School
Constantinos Kayafas, Wheeling Park High School
Andrew Kelvington, Jefferson High School
Marleah Knights, Morgantown High School
Mallory Leadman, Bridgeport High School
Daisy Levine, Jefferson High School
Emily Loh, Wheeling Park High School
Giana Loretta, Lincoln High School
Anna Lynch, Jefferson High School
Vance Mazure, Wheeling Park High School
Bailey McCord, University High School
Selena McKnight, Mingo Central High School
Madeline Miller, East Fairmont High School
David Milleson, Washington High School
Caroline Murphy, South Charleston High School
Sadaf Nikzad, University High School
Seng Nsang, Jefferson High School
Maegyn Nurkiewicz, Morgantown High School
Zoe Payne, Philip Barbour High School
Lhasa Peak, Morgan County, home schooled
Jacob Pennell, Magnolia High School
Chloe Perdue, Midland Trail High School
Jordan Phillips, Wheeling Park High School
Sage Placke, Washington High School
Ryan Post-Overton, Lewis County High School
Julia Pritt, Cabell Midland High School
Charlotte Puttock, Jefferson High School
Jordan Rea, Bridgeport High School and home schooled
Faith Richter, Wheeling Park High School
Benjamin Ridgel, Frankfort High School
Cassidy Roles, Fayetteville High School
Aysia Runyon, Mingo Central High School
Lucas Sakole, Washington High School
Rachael Saldanha, Charleston Catholic High School
Vada Scarbro, St. Albans High School
Karl Scheib, Hedgesville High School
Hannah Schorr, Robert C. Byrd High School
Elizabeth Sexton, Wood County, home school
Jacie Shaver, Ravenswood High School
Kaden Short, Bluefield High School
Lydia Simon, Wheeling Park High School
Levi Simpkins, Ripley High School
Allison Smith, Kanawha County, home schooled
Robert Smith, Fairmont Senior High School
Zoe Smith, Washington High School
David Snider, Parkersburg High School
Kaleb Snider, Tucker County High School
Kendall Snyder, Spring Mills High School
Hayden Summers, George Washington High School
Craig Swink, Washington High School
Mallory Thomas, Hurricane High School
Emily Thompson, Washington High School
Presley Turner, Lewis County High School
Angela Van Horn, Woodrow Wilson High School
Kara Vaughan, Greenbrier East High School
Tia Walkup, Greenbrier West High School
Stephanie Warvel, Woodrow Wilson High School
Emilia Weiss, Musselman High School
Mackenzie Williams, Capital High School
River Winland, University Collaborative Program (Kanawha County)
Callyn Zeigler, George Washington High School
Lacie Pearson Herald Dispatch