Academy Gives Arts Students Their Due - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Academy Gives Arts Students Their Due

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KALISPELL -

A new program of study at Glacier High School caters to kids with an artistic flair.

This year, the school unveiled the Fine Arts Academy that gives special recognition to students in music, visual art, and theatre.

Jaclyn Rensel has spent many hours in her high school theatre.

"I can't even count the number of all school productions I've been in," said Jaclyn.

She's been taking acting classes at Glacier High School since her freshman year, and in June will graduate with a distinction in theatre from the Fine Arts Academy.

"I've learned more in theatre than I've learned in any classroom," said Jaclyn.

Each of the three concentrations in the Academy has its own set of requirements. All of them take four credits in relevant courses. Visual art students have to submit a portfolio of work and volunteer around town by mentoring or giving tours at the Hockaday. Music and theatre also need two varsity letters in each respective art form.

"I think we're pretty unique in Montana that music and theatre both you can letter," said Ivanna Fritz, the head of the theatre and English departments.

It started for a few reasons. Fritz says the new Academy helps balance out Glacier's Engineering Academy, a similar concept for math and science oriented kids. She also thinks it's the culture around the Valley.

"We have a vibrant arts community in the Flathead Valley. Really, actually, very unique for such a small community," said Fritz.

Next year will be the first full year with the Fine Arts Academy, and only a few dedicated seniors like Jaclyn will be able to graduate with the distinction this year.

"You get to escape yourself for a little bit," explained Jaclyn, "You get to step away from all that stress you have to deal with day to day in high school."

Interestingly enough, the College Board finds that students who take four years of fine arts score 58 points higher on the verbal section and 38 points higher on the math part of the SAT than those who have just a quarter of that coursework.

Jaclyn plans on studying at the University of Montana next year. She's thinking about getting a teaching degree, but also hopes to travel and dabble in theatre around the globe.

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