GCAA opened its doors for classes in August 2010. I was there, and many students and families currently attending were there on that special day. I'd like to share this photo that I found on social media.* In this photo, Principal Lynne Glickert was greeting the entire student body at the temporary location of GCAA, Third Baptist Church. *If anyone knows who took the photo, let me know so that I can give credit where it is due. I suspect it was taken by a faculty or staff member at GCAA.
A couple weeks ago, GCAA Head of School Matt Frederickson agreed to allow me to record an interview where he discusses many aspects of GCAA. It's a 25 minute interview filled with colorful images of GCAA students making art. Enjoy!
Senior year. It's a significant time in the life of high school students. Senior year. It’s a significant time in the life of high school students. It’s even more significant at Grand Center Arts Academy because it’s the first senior year in school history. GCAA is a performing arts charter school in the network of Confluence Charter Schools. The school opened in 2010-2011 with sixth and seventh grade students at Third Baptist Church, a few blocks down the street. The core curriculum includes communication arts, social studies, math and science, as well as dance, music, visual and performing arts and theatre. See the entire article and photos a the Confluence Website.Antonio Mosley and Ivy Beckenholdt were among the first group of seventh grade students who took a chance at a new school. JuJu Vieth started as a sixth grader. She was able to skip eighth grade and moved ahead. As they begin the new school year as seniors, they share what it means to be part of something uniquely different.
Grand Center Arts Academy is getting to be an increasingly large and energetic community of students, faculty and parents, all with a central mission of "education." What does that term mean, though, in the context of a public school focused on the arts? It means many things to the many people involved in the GCAA community. Covering these topics is an engaging discussion that draws from many perspectives. Principal Lynne Glickert discussed these issues with me in early September. Given the many sub-topics, it shouldn't be surprising that the conversation was extended, and I've divided the interview into six parts. Each of these videos is sprinkled with images of GCAA students and faculty in an effort to illustrate some of the issues discussed by Principal Glickert. The six video segments cover these topics:
- Visual Arts
Passing by the Sun Theater today, I looked up to see workers working on some of the many faces that decorate the exterior. With the help of a camera zoom lens I was better able to appreciate the details of those many faces looking down at those of us passing by. One of the workers commented that casts are being taken of some of these faces, so that replacement faces can be created to replace the damaged or missing faces. Here's one of the faces close up: The renovations to the sun theater are expected to be complete by early 2014.
By 9th Grader Joel Breeden, member of the Website Reporting Club The Sun Theater, located directly behind the main school building of GCAA, is in the process of becoming GCAA’s own theater for musicals, plays, and concerts featuring GCAA’s orchestra, band, choir, and dance performers. The 30,000 square foot theater will also include three classrooms and a backstage workshop. Along with the other members of the GCAA Website Reporting Club, I recently had the opportunity to interview Ms. Katherine Palmer, GCAA’s Community Development Coordinator, on the topic of the Sun Theater. In 1913, the Sun Theater was established as a 1,800 seat theater known as “The Victoria” or “The German Theater,” and it originally cost $120,000 to build. The first floor of the theater was used for German plays and Operas. The second floor was used as a lecture hall. Because of anti-German sentiment caused by World War I, however, the theater was shut down. After the war, the theater reopened as “The Liberty.” Over the years the theater has been used as a movie theater, vaudeville show, burlesque hall, a night club and apparently even a church. The shows staged in the theater changed throughout the theater’s life right along with the names of the theater; it has been called “The World,” “400 Club,” The Lyn,” and it is currently it is called “The Sun.” In 1981, the theater’s doors closed and they have not reopened since. Even with Grand Center, Inc. buying the land in the early 1990s, the only sign of life has been the big neon sign out front. The theater has been in a great need of a renovation. "The whole place on the inside looks like a bomb went off," according to Ms. Palmer. The photos included with this article demonstrate the extent of renovation work needed. These photos were taken about one month ago by GCAA Website Reporter JuJu Vieth. Ms. Palmer told the Website Reporters a story she heard during a recent tour through the vacant theater: "A man went in there back in the early 1990s and he said that in the middle of the stage, there was just a huge mound of stuff and he had no idea why this mound was in the middle of the stage. Come to find out, it was pigeon poop!" On January 8th, 2013, The Lawrence Group (led by CEO Steve Smith) bought the property, and the renovation of the Sun started on January 9th. The whole process will take between one year and 18 months to complete. This puts the theater’s completion prior to the summer of 2014. The Lawrence Group will serve as the architects for the renovation as well as the general manager and designers. After the renovation, Grand Center Arts Academy will be signing a lease to use the Sun Theater with Landmark Group. In addition to using the Sun for its own performances, GCAA will also rent out its space at the Sun Theater to other schools and civic groups. After the 11.5 million dollar renovation, our two-block area will become more of a school campus. Given that the Sun will include three second-floor classrooms, GCAA students will be using the Sun on a daily basis. There will be a new elevator attached to the building for easier access to the second floor. The Sun will also contain a workshop where GCAA students will learn to build theater sets. Another great opportunity this theater will give our kids will be summer classes. Mrs. Palmer described another possibility: "Imagine if we had a summer class and you studied [Alfred] Hitchcock, and how he made movies and then you tried to recreate a Hitchcock movie and we had this great big screen come down onto the stage. Can you imagine if your video could be shown?" Grand Center Arts Academy was first a dream for teenagers in the St. Louis area to express themselves in the arts. This dream has become more and more a reality. This dream first started in Third Baptist Church, our first home to our students. One year later, the dream picked up and moved one block up to its new and permanent home on North Grand Boulevard. Now, we look forward to the completion of our newest expansion, the Sun Theater. [This article was written by GCAA 9th Grader Joel Breeden, a member of the GCAA Website Reporting Club]. [slideshowgallery]
[Note: When donating through PayPal, you need to spell out "Saint" in "Saint Louis." You will get an error message if you type in "St. Louis."] Dear GCAA families and friends: Join us in expanding our dream and keeping GCAA growing. There is no wrapping paper to sell and no pleading with relatives to buy cookie dough. Rather, this is a straightforward appeal that has every dollar going straight to the students starting next semester. Additional resources mean additional opportunities--right away, as explained by Lynne Glickert in the following video: It wasn’t long ago when Lynne Glickert was telling some potential parents and local community leaders about the sort of school she aimed to create. There was no school yet--no students, no building. She was beautifully selling a future dream by waving her hands in passionate gestures and pointing to a few drawings on an easel. That was the winter of 2010. That was the beginning of our story and now we are onto a new chapter, helping the school to grow with your financial support. Funds will be used for adjunct faculty, basic supplies for each of the five talent areas and for after-school programs like guitar classes, media courses, art projects, filmmaking, science, poetry and reading clubs. With the help of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, we can achieve our goal. There is no better investment than an investment in our children. You can make your donation in either of two ways: 1) Send your donation to GCAA in response to Lynne Glickert’s appeal packet (which you will receive in the U.S. mail this week) or 2 ) Click on the Paypal “Donate” Button immediately below to make an online donation by using your credit card. [Note: When donating through PayPal, you need to spell out "Saint" in "Saint Louis." You will get an error message if you type in "St. Louis."] We appreciate all the hard work on the part of many parents who have helped and are continuing to help by volunteering for school performances, running concessions, supporting teachers and being there for us. Each and every dollar raised is vital and we thank you for your passion and positive energy. We acknowledge the diligence of faculty members who have been working to raise their own funds with the help of booster clubs and individuals who have reached out to help. Many of these efforts will and should continue in harmony with this campaign. For example, we know that equipping our music department with a full lineup of instruments will take many additional thousands of dollars, and time to make happen. Fully outfitting our 6th floor theater room into a professional black box theater will also require additional resources. We understand that the financial needs for some departments will be different, but that all of our departments have important needs. When we are considering our children and their future, no gift is too large, but neither is any gift too small. If we received $180 per student for each of our 433 students (this is about one dollar per school day), we could bridge the gap. We will be equitable in supporting our arts departments with immediate resources that will help them all, concentrating first on the items that have been identified by staff and teachers as the most critical. We will be updating this list in cooperation with our teachers and sharing this with you in the coming days. Thank you for your support to keep GCAA growing. Dan Rubright Director of Arts and Community Partnerships Grand Center Arts Academy P.S. Very much in the spirit of this Fund Drive to benefit the students, I’d also like to share one more video, this one created by GCAA 9th grader JuJu Vieth. JuJu’s aim was to share the enthusiasm she and her fellow students feel for GCAA.
GCAA has only been around since 2010, but we are in our third year and a lot has already happened. Some of those moments have been captured by short videos. It seemed like a good time to put some of those videos in one place, both for those of you who are new to GCAA and for those of us who would like to reminisce. Here are some of those GCAA videos, in chronological order: August 16, 2010 - TV News Story featuring the day GCAA first opened its doors. Aug 16-17, 2010. Here's a video featuring a Collaborative Mural project led by guest Artist Ellie Balk On Sept 13, 2010, Theater Teacher Eric Conners sketched out his vision for the brand new school. April 10, 2011 - This video features a video-journalism class attended by select GCAA students in conjunction with PBS affiliate KETC. Saint Louis University produced this short documentary on April 15, 2011. It focused on both GCAA , as well as GCAA's collaboration with its sponsor, Saint Louis University. The end of GCAA's first full year featured an Arts Infusion in June, 2011. This GCAA promo video was published in September, 2011. About a week ago, GCAA 9th grader JuJu Vieth published the following slide show, featuring some of the high points from the 2011-2012 school year.