Aspiring artists, STEM students get head start in Chaney program

By Denise Dick


Dalton Narog flipped across the Chaney Auditorium stage.

Aldon Gomez fashioned his duck chucker to launch rubber ducks into a small, inflatable swimming pool and Maiya Hill chassed to the “Dance of the Little Swans.”

The three students, all 11, are incoming sixth-graders to Chaney’s Visual and Performing Arts and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Campus.

They are among students entering either the STEM or VPA program this school year and participated this week in a summer bridge enrichment program — introducing them to the

specialty programs they’ll study next year.

Tracy Schuler Vivo, VPA coordinator, said more than 100 new students will join the program this year from about 225 applicants. That number includes about 40 students from outside of the city school district.

“It’s getting tougher to get in,” she said.

Both camps ran from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. this week, wrapping up Friday.

Camp Invention for incoming STEM students was funded with a grant from the Nordson Corp. Foundation. The camp is created in partnership with the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Pam Lubich, STEM coordinator, said students engaged in a different activity each day.

In one project, each created a device to hurl a rubber duck into a wading pool.

“The first time, mine made it into the pool,” Aldon said.

He made his chucker from colorful yarn, string and feathers attached to a stick.

Seventh-grader Jose Delvalle and sixth-grader Dante Minter, both 12, worked together to create an imaginary marketplace.

“We learned that teamwork pays off,” Dante said.

VPA students presented a showcase Friday, demonstrating what they learned.

Stagecraft instructor Craig Popovich used prosthetic noses, chins and eyeballs along with makeup to turn Brianna Kerr, 11, into a witch and Vada Cline into a zombie for the showcase.

“I’m walking around scaring people,” said Brianna, who will be in sixth grade next year.

“It’s really sweet,” Vada added.

Other demonstrations included modern dance, ballet, music, jazz, drama and performance poetry.

Dalton and Maiya performed in both the Introduction to Ballet and the Introduction to Jazz Dance numbers.

Dalton likes jazz better.

He became interested in dance about two years ago.

“I just started listening to music and moving to it,” he said.

As far as those flips he executed across the stage, he kind of learned to do that by accident.

“In the winter, I was in my snow boots, and I kind of fell backwards and just flipped over,” he said.

Maiya has wanted to dance since she was a baby. She got interested when she saw singers such as Beyonce and Ciara perform on television. She’s looking forward to her school days including dance classes next year.

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