Toledo School for the Arts schedules Jan. 22 open houseWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
On any given day at Toledo School for the Arts (TSA), students can be found choreographing dance routines, practicing guitar riffs or putting the finishing touches on their latest paintings.
Since 1999, the public charter school Downtown has helped hundreds of creative students, including recent “American Idol” runner-up Crystal Bowersox, nurture their gifts in music, dance, theater and visual arts alongside core academic subjects.
At first, the school drew mainly from the Toledo area; now it draws students from 27 school districts, said TSA development director Dave Gierke. To kick off its next enrollment period, TSA will host its annual open house starting at 10 a.m. Jan. 22, the first day applications for the 2011-12 school year will be accepted.
Teachers, parents and students will be available to answer questions, 20-minute informational tours will start every half hour and student artwork and club information will be on display, Gierke said.
Gierke advises prospective students to download an enrollment packet from TSA’s website or pick one up at the school before coming to the open house.
“Open house used to be a time to talk and check it out, but now it’s almost become a day to be here with your stuff in hand and ready to go,” Gierke said. “We start scheduling placement interviews that day.”
TSA, which has 560 students in grades six through 12, has openings for 85 sixth-graders and a few openings in other grades, Gierke said. Last year, the school received 300 applications for 115 openings, of which 80 were for sixth-graders.
“So few kids ever leave that usually if they don’t get into the school in sixth grade, they won’t get in,” Gierke said.
Alumna Caitlin Stoner, a 2007 grad who came to TSA in 10th grade, said the school helps build confidence.
“I felt in my previous schooling I was just being pushed along, but here I was being developed,” Stoner said. “It’s a healthy and encouraging atmosphere for creative kids.”
TSA’s diverse, liberal environment with high levels of autonomy is not the right fit for every student, but many who find a home at TSA report they have trouble finding another place that nourishes them so completely, Gierke said.
“It’s a very different culture,” Gierke said. “Students become very ingrained. Students are here after school a lot. It’s not unusual for teachers to be here late into the evening.”
“Pretty much everything” about TSA is different, from the jazz-club-inspired cafeteria décor to the classes, Gierke said.
“We believe creative students do better here when arts are infused into education, meaning you may go to science class and be learning the science of sound, which may help you understand your instrument better,” Gierke said.
Stoner, who attends Bowling Green State University, where she designed her own music major, said she enjoyed that classes at TSA were tailored to the artistic mind, whether it was writing plays in history or creating geometric art in math.
“Every aspect of the school understands there are other ways to learn,” Stoner said.
While Bowersox may be the school’s most well-known former student, she is by no means the only successful alum, Gierke said. TSA grads are dancing on Broadway and working for highly regarded graphics companies; locally, they can be found on stage at symphony concerts and involved in art shows.
“I believe we’re preserving a culture, a culture of creatives,” Gierke said. “Every time a school cuts arts programs, it makes the demand for TSA even greater in our community.”
TSA, located at 333 14th St., has been rated excellent by the Ohio Department of Education for the past five years and named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, according to its website. About 75 percent of graduates go on to higher education, Gierke said.
For more information, visit www.ts4arts.org or call (419) 246-8732.