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Kids develop artistic options in Dayspring's afterschool program

PORT RICHEY

School's out for the day.

Now what?

Play some video games? While away some hours watching mindless afternoon cartoons before getting that homework out of the way?

How about doing something artful like taking instruction in piano or perhaps, the guitar? Maybe slip on a pair of dance shoes and tap your heart out for a while?

At Dayspring Academy, youngsters are enjoying those kinds of afterschool options right on campus. About 45 students have signed on for classes in dance, guitar, piano, voice, drums and tumbling in the school's Alpha Rho Theta Community Arts Program.

James Donlon, 13, is learning how to play acoustic and now the electric guitar. Kayleigh Weber and Ali Poole, both 6, have been working on ballet positions one through four and some rather loud tap dance shuffles in the elementary dance class. Amanda Franco, 13, has been dancing forever and helps out with the Princess Dance Class for wee ones. Kelli Carmack finds her world expanding as she takes ballet lessons for the first time and shares dreams of a future in professional theater — maybe in New York City.

"Dance is so much fun," said Kelli, 13, noting that she's delighted about being able to master some difficult leaps during the afternoon ballet class. "It's opening up for me. I'm kind of ballooning in my confidence."

The program, now in its second year, is open to kids in the surrounding community as well as Dayspring students at a cost of $45 a month for each class.

"There's been more enrollment this year but we're still working on growing, said Kelly Covic, humanities and theater director at Dayspring. "We'd like to get the word out about that."

Alpha Rho Theta is a real enhancement for the community as well as a school that already is big on the arts, said Jenna Simon, who teaches dance, musical theater and computer classes at the middle school campus.

"Our school is very unique," she said. "Part of our charter is to include the arts."

Over the years, Dayspring has put on many student productions: Peter Pan, Mulan, Aladdin, Sound of Music and Annie just to list a few. The elementary school incorporates drama and dance with music classes. And because the middle school offers an extended day with eight class periods, students there already have the opportunity to dabble in dance, piano/keyboarding, computer animation, art or musical theater as a chosen elective during the school day.

"We wanted to build on the arts programs we already have here but we noticed the kids needed more one-on-one instruction and we wanted to offer something to the community," Simon said. "Alpha Rho does that. It's a safe place to go. We offer classes at a reasonable price. We put on a small show at the end of the year. But there are no expensive costumes to buy."

It's also convenient for students enrolled at Dayspring. Middle school students just stay on campus when the last bell rings, while younger students are bused over from the elementary campus.

At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, dance class starts for the elementary students under Simon's instruction. They don leotards and tights and get some help tying a bow in those ballet shoes before finding a spot to stretch.

"Get in line — don't squish each other," Simon tells the 10 ballerinas as she readies for some barre exercises.

"What do you do with your arms?" she asks.

"They go up in the air," someone calls out.

"What about your toes?"

"Point them," all say in unison.

Kids develop artistic options in Dayspring's afterschool program 10/26/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 1:11am]
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