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Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Introduces Guest Speakers Virtually

Academy of Visual and Performing Arts Introduces Guest Speakers Virtually

Christa CarrStudents enrolled in the Lancaster Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts hone their abilities and gain skills from experiences in and outside the classroom. While academy students have been unable to travel to visit art galleries or attend musical performances this school year, instructors have kept the rigorous curriculum and many extra-curricular activities intact.  

“We normally invite guest speakers to attend our monthly meetings, but this year, all meetings are virtual, so we have been able to collaborate with many of our alumni,” Shannon Zolnowski, music teacher, explained. 

In December, 25 AVPA alumni both in college and careers met with current students. The students split into ten groups to have the opportunity to interact with the alumni in a smaller group setting. In January, Dan Mertzlufft, AVPA Class of 2011, spoke to students about his path from LHS to SUNY Potsdam to the music industry in New York City.  His most recent accomplishment is composing music and serving as the Music Supervisor for "Ratatouille, The TikTok Musical."  In February, Christa Carr, AVPA Class of 2014, spoke to students.  She studied 2D animation at Pratt Institute and is currently working in Production at Dreamworks Animation.

“Hearing from Christa was particularly fascinating and motivating for me because I hope to one day work for the same company. I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear all of the speakers’ experiences doing what they love to do,” Katherine Myhalenko, senior art student and AVPA treasurer said.

“The response from our current students has been overwhelmingly positive. The students were impressed with the wide variety of colleges, majors, and careers that our alumni represented during Alumni Day,” Brett Miller, art teacher, said. “I think students relate to the fact that Dan and Christa in particular can speak so much to what their respective art careers are like right now, especially considering how fast the world changes.”

The mission of the Lancaster Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts is to provide students with a solid foundation in the arts through a sequence of academic courses, career exploration opportunities and inspiring interactions with fellow students, faculty and professional artists. The three-year program was first designed and implemented by LHS art and music teachers as a first of its kind program in Fall 2008.

AVPA Senior ClassCome to see student performances, living works of art and more at the outdoor Festival of the Arts on May 21 from 3-6PM at Lancaster High School. More details are available on the Lancaster High School website. 

Cameron Juzdowski is a senior music student and Co-President of the AVPA. She said hearing from guest speakers gives her confidence that the skills she learned in the AVPA will lead to a bright future.

“I love the connections I have built and the memories I have made being an academy student,” she said.

Throughout the year the performing arts students continued to work hard to be able to share their Senior Recital performances with family and the community through a livestream. The Senior Art show will feature the visual art students’ four favorite works from their submissions to College Board for AP credit. The opening on May 26 will be for the 11 seniors’ families only, but the exhibit will remain in place for their classmates’ viewing until June 10. 

When students learn to prepare for long-term projects, they gain communication skills, leadership skills, and self-confidence. No matter what college major students intend to pursue, they are gaining life skills by participating in something they love while in the AVPA.