Art Summer puts Darlington County kids center stage

By Samantha Lyles,

For 28 years, the Darlington County School District’s Art Summer program has provided gifted and talented students with expert instruction, focused attention, and a chance to feel the thrill of staging a performance for a live audience.
Students enrolled in any DCSD school in fifth grade through eleventh grade are eligible to attend this three week program. This year’s Art Summer cohort consisted of over 100 students from across the district, including kids from Lamar, Society Hill, Hartsville, and Darlington.

“Art Summer incorporates strings, band, media arts, digital arts, drama, chorus, and dance,” says Chenethia Brown, Art Summer director. “This program is for students who are gifted and talented. Around April, performers go to an audition, and media and arts students prepare a portfolio. Once they get accepted to the program, they look to work with the best of the best in the district. They get to really hone in on their craft and get one-on-one attention.”
Brown says that class sizes in Art Summer are typically smaller than the average band class or art class, meaning that students can get more individual attention from instructors.

“They also get to work with students who are of the same caliber or higher, so they feed off each other and see different things they need to work on to get better,” says Brown. “They learn to critique each other and collaborate.”
Marissa Johnson, DCSD’s Arts and Innovative Programs coordinator, says that many Art Summer participants find the program so rewarding that after they graduate from high school, they return to help out as student assistants.
“This is a program that gives children a chance to really perfect their artistic craft. They are able to work with teachers in their discipline and learn so much more about art, music, dance, and drama. We do not have a dance or drama program in the district during the school year, so we really see a lot of interest in those two areas during the summer,” says Johnson.
While most of the Art Summer instructors are experienced teachers from within DCSD, they do advertise for instructors in various positions and disciplines. Brown says that this year’s roster of teachers came mostly from the district except for the dance instructor, who is a student at the University of South Carolina.

“We do have some artists-in-residence that we contact to see if they would be interested in being an instructor in the program, but normally the instructors that we use have done Art Summer every year. It’s really good to have that continuity in the program, to have teachers that come back to work with the kids every summer,” says Johnson.

This year’s Art Summer program culminated in a live performance and art show on Thursday, June 22 at Hartsville Middle School, where students got to showcase their talents for family, friends, and guests. This year’s theme was “A Night on the Red Carpet,” featuring a live talent show where performers tried to catch the attention of a fictitious – and somewhat persnickety – Hollywood luminary.

“We focused more on big Hollywood films and their soundtracks, and the theater aspect was more of an “America’s Got Talent” scenario incorporating some of the serious talent and the more comedic theatrical talent at well,” says Brown.
To learn more about the Darlington County School District’s Art Summer program, call (843) 398-5100.

Author: mrollins

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