I should admit, first and foremost, that I’m biased toward the Huntsville City Schools Magnet Program – I’m a direct product of it. As an alumni of the Academy for Science & Foreign Language (ASFL), the Academy for Academics & Arts (AAA), and Lee High School’s Performing Arts Program (Vocal Magnet), I can tell you how the program benefitted me personally – even though I may not work in the arts at all now that I’m a grown adult.
My children are now part of the magnet program (my seven year old is in 2nd grade at AAA), as is my husband (he’s the teacher of the Technical Theatre Magnet at Lee High School), so I’m now even more convinced that the Magnet Program is the way to go when it comes to schooling in Huntsville.
Here’s a short list of the competencies your child will gain in the magnet arts programs in Huntsville City School’s Magnet Arts programs.
Look, every 7 year old is confident. But not so much in the middle school and high school years, when puberty and peer pressure start to rock the boat. So building on the confidence of a young child and then fostering strength as a child matures is key. Arts programs do that in spades, providing ample opportunities for students to create and perform in a safe and supportive environment, and see the immediate impacts of what believing yourself can do. That’s something that carries through a lifespan.
Not necessarily the physical kind – although anyone who’s ever performed on stage or hung stage lighting will argue that there’s TONS of physical agility required – but in life. Things change on a dime in the arts – a cast member drops out or your negatives are ruined before they develop – and you have to be ready to react accordingly. The arts teach you that it’s okay to be shaken by a change, but as we say, the show must go on.
I could preach on this aspect for HOURS. Do you know how many times in my daily professional life that I have to corral a room full of dynamic and diverse personalities? Too many times to count. Do you know where I honed that skill? In a magnet arts program. With kids joining from all points in Huntsville – not just one particular neighborhood – you have a guaranteed melting pot of backgrounds, ideas, and personalities all aligned one particular goal. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it?
Resoundingly, a hundred thousand times, YES.
Wait, what? Why is this a good thing? Let me tell you why. Rejection – when done in a safe space, where you’re cushioned as you fall AND presented with an opportunity to get back up and try again – teaches kids just that: you’re gonna fail sometimes and it’s not the failure that defines you, it’s the recovery. By exploring when a piece doesn’t work or when an 8-count doesn’t fit in a choreographed dance, you teach kids that it’s okay to fail as long as they fix it in the next round.
It’s fair to say that kids can get this at any school. But the environment in a magnet school is different, and the friendships you forge there are real, lifelong friendships. I am STILL in touch with all of my high school friends and a lot of my middle school friends. Our kids are now friends! And it’s not uncommon that you talk to parents of students in the magnet school today and find out that their parents are alumni – it’s THAT life changing.
Curious about HCS Magnet programs? You can learn more about it here. You can also come see the magnet arts in action by visiting the Academy Children’s Theatre – a division of the Academy of Academics & Arts – in their debut production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Not only is this traditional tale completely acted by the students at the school, this particular adaptation was written by the students! Students also run the technical aspects (lighting, sound, stage management) as well. It’s a great chance to see what arts integration does in a school!