Students hone creative skills at OSAI
LONE WOLF - Almost 300 diamonds in the rough or already shining are being polished this summer at the Quartz Mountain Arts and Conference Center.
Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute has been in existence for 41 years, and thousands of students have learned lessons that they have taken all over the world after intensive two weeks at the institute.
Nine disciplines are explored by the students: acting, creative writing, ballet, modern dance, orchestra, chorus, drawing and painting, photography, and film and video.
The Oklahoma Arts Institute is part of a unique public/private partnership. Major funding is provided by private donations secured by the institute, with matching funds from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and additional support from the Oklahoma Arts Council.
"To attend the Institute, prospective students have to apply to the discipline they are interested in, by sending a resume, then audition for their position in the Institute," said Charlotte Stout, public relations assistant. "The application fee is paid by the student, and, if by chance, they can't afford it, we have what we call an angel fund where their fee is paid for by the institute."
Ashlyn Claxton, 16, of Lawton, will be a senior at Eisenhower High School in August and is a first-time participant in the institute this summer.
"Chorus is my main focus this summer," Claxton said. "I come by my musical interest naturally. My mom, Carol Hall, is a choral teacher in Lawton."
"My major in college will most likely be music," she said. "I want to pursue psychology or be on a Disney Cruise Line as a singer, or maybe even open a voice studio. This camp is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people with the same interests and to figure out if you really want to pursue that discipline."
"My conductor is the most phenomenal person I've met here," Claxton said. "He makes music fun."
"We have some of the best students in Oklahoma and all of them are in the top 50 percent of their class," said Juliette Lloyd, also a public relations assistant with the institute. "This is pre-professional training and it helps people make up their minds about what they really want to pursue."
Pursuing disciplines is why Julia Pelletier of Altus is at the institute this summer. She just graduated from Navajo High School and plans to attend Oklahoma University and major in chemistry and minor in music. She wants to attend medical school or become a dentist.
"This is my third year attending the institute," she said. "I learned about the institute through my sister, who also attended for four years. She has a job singing in a choir at church now.
"What I like best about the camp is the fact that it's multi-disciplined. It's cool to see what people know about their disciplines, and it's inspiring to learn about them and what their interests are. I have made some new friends here."
"There are faculty from Kansas City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, New York City, Little Rock, Pittsburgh, Tallahassee and Boston, to name a few places," Lloyd said. "We have some top-notch instructors on campus right now, and they are all experienced in their fields and many of them are award-winners."
Kristin Valerio is an 11th-grader at Altus High School and has chosen chorus as her discipline.
"I sing soprano and this is the first time that I have attended the institute," Valerio said. "My favorite part of the institute is Dr. (Eph) Ehly, our clinician for chorus. He taught us that we need to care what other people feel as we sing. This taught me to sing in a different way."
After high school, Valerio plans to attend Baylor University as a pre-med student and eventually wants to be a surgeon.
"I have taken classes at Johns Hopkins University since last year," she said. "It was a two-week summer program for high school students and I took Introduction to Laboratory. This summer, I will take Biomedical Engineering. I didn't think I would like it here, but we go to different performances every night. Next weekend is a performance weekend. It helps to see what other kids are doing in their disciplines."