Jenks-area students take part in Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute

Jenks-area students take part in Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute

Eighteen Jenks-area students recently joined a group of 270 young artists from Oklahoma for a week studying alongside renowned faculty and guest artists at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute.

Attendees were selected from more than 1,000 applicants during a competitive statewide audition process this past winter.

Each attendee studies one of the eight artistic disciplines, which are acting, chorus, creative writing, dance, drawing and painting, film and video, orchestra, and photography.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OSAI could not take place at Quartz Mountain this year. Rather than canceling the program altogether, the organization created an online program called “OSAI at Home”.

With more instructors than usual, and nightly presentations from renowned artists, such as Misty Copeland of American Ballet Theatre, students convened online for masterclasses with artist-educators in their field, workshopping and critiques, one-on-one lessons and opportunities to build community with other young artists.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister commended the Oklahoma Arts Institute’s innovative online program.

“In the face of uncertainty and change, the Oklahoma Arts Institute made a commitment to the state’s most talented students that the show would, indeed, go on—despite the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hofmeister said. “OSAI’s pivot to an online Summer Arts Institute has proven that where there’s a will, there’s a way. As a result, students across the state were able to learn and create under the tutelage of exceptional instructors and guest artists.”

The following Jenks-area students attended OSAI at Home:

-Jenks High School — Savannah Durham (Chorus); Mason Chow, Eli Gavrilko, Leviathan Lee, Roland Rice and Abby Vaughn (Film & Video); Alexis Gibson, Holly Hilst, Ryann Johnson, Regan Jones, Isaiah Medina Aguilar, Jakob Olsen and Oliver Robinson (Orchestra); Olivia Cropper and Audrey McGee (Photography)

-Bixby High School — Toni Hopkins (Film & Video)

-Metro Christian Academy — Scott Crowder (Acting) and Ryan Schlaud (Film & Video)

Students at “OSAI at Home” received specialized instruction from university professors, such as award-winning poet Sasha Pimentel of the University of Texas at El Paso and actor-educator Daniel Spector of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Spector said that he did not give his students the “high school version” of his curriculum but taught his class at a collegiate level.

Jenks and Orchestra student Ryann Johnson said he enjoyed learning more about music.

“My favorite part of ‘OSAI at Home’ was Maestro Tinkham’s lectures about musicianship,” Johnson said. “They were so interesting, and I learned so much. I have never had a teacher teach the way he did. His lectures were not only fascinating, but they were interactive and full of information. He gave me so much to think about, and I have no doubt that I have improved as a musician this week because of him.”

Jenks and Film and Video student Eli Gavrilko said he has become more confident following the program.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned at OSAI was to be more confident in my work. I used to avoid doing work out of a fear that it would not meet the standards of quality I set for myself,” Gavrilko said. “OSAI taught me that bad work is still practice and some practice is better than no practice at all. That inspired me to go and pursue my personal projects, and, regardless of their final quality, feel proud about practicing the skills necessary to do what I’m passionate about.”

While working from home provided challenges to students and faculty alike, the students and faculty said they found that the “Quartz Mountain Magic”— the spirit of community and collaboration—could also exist online.

“One thing I learned from my time in OSAI was the importance of vulnerability. It’s important not to avoid making mistakes, but instead to view them as an opportunity to improve,” said Jenks and Chorus student Savannah Durham. “I also just really enjoyed being surrounded by so many people who had a common interest in music.”

Participants said they particularly enjoyed the nightly guest-artist lectures and Q&A sessions, where the students had a chance to learn and interact with renowned artists.

Hofmeister applauded the students’ hard work and commitment to their art form.

“I am so proud of these students. The fire inside them burns bright, and their courageous creativity will ensure a brighter future for the state of Oklahoma,” Hofmeister said.

Through its partnership with the State of Oklahoma, as well as support from numerous private donors, the Arts Institute ensures that every student accepted to OSAI receives a full scholarship to attend.

Scholarships for Jenks-area students were provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Albert and Hete Barthelmes Foundation, the Anne and Henry Zarrow Scholars Fund, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Koch Industries Scholars Fund, the Mervin Bovaird Foundation, the Public Service Company of Oklahoma Scholars Fund and the Williams Companies Scholars Fund.

Additional program support was provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council, the Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Harris Foundation, the OKC Midtown Rotary Club and the Zarrow Foundations. This project was also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


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