Experience of a lifetime


Azaria Pearson, Design Editor

By: Azaria Pearson

Design Editor

What comes to mind when you think of a place where you can do what you love? Where you can be who you want to be without the judgment of others. A place where there is nothing but acceptance, encouragement and creativity everywhere you turn.

For a handful of students here and from schools across the state of Missouri that place was Missouri Fine Arts Academy (MFAA) located at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. The following students attended: Jessica Stone, Jacob Evans, Scott Wescott, Theo Triplett, Joseph Johnson, AJ Collins, Stephan McIntire, Hayley Gibson and Clare Dudenhoeffer.

For three weeks in June actors, dancers, artists and musicians alike are gathered and lived on campus and participated in a multitude of interdisciplinary, discipline-specific classes as well as other activities that coincide with their individual talents and what they wanted to study. This program has been in effect since the summer of 1996 and everyone has nothing but good things to say about it.

Thanks to our school being in association with E Desmond Lee Fine Arts Education Collaborative, we were able to send some students to this camp for free, that would usually cost $1,500 for a person. All the students had to do was fill out the application form with basic information, write an essay on why art has changed their lives and demonstrate their talent.

“I went for singing,” said junior Jessica Stone.

Stone along with senior Theo Triplett had to record themselves singing in order to complete their application process. Stone had first heard about this program from her choir teacher Mr. Baker who encouraged her to apply.

“I was really nervous because I had never done anything like this before,” said Stone.

“About a month later I got a letter saying I had made it; I cried tears of joy.”

After receiving her letter, Stone quickly e-mailed her choir teacher and thanked him for pushing her to take this opportunity. She was really excited that she had this opportunity to expand her talent that not many people encourage her to have.

After getting accepted, one can’t help but wonder what the camp will be like.

“I expected that they would tell me how I had to do something; that I had to do exactly what they said and the people would be stuck up and closed minded,” said Triplett.

He couldn’t have been more wrong. The people, teachers and students alike, were open-minded and welcoming; there was no judgment, everyone accepted each other and encouraged them in their talents.

“We all made art,” said senior Scott Westcott.

Westcott went for art and was expecting it to be boring but soon realized that it was the chance of a lifetime. Everything he did there was fun, from meeting new and creative people to collaborating with other students on artwork.

“I’ve never done anything that cool before, I learned to collaborate and be open with people,” said Westcott.

Seniors Stephan McIntire and Jacob Evans went for music because of their talents with musical instruments. Evans, who plays the bassoon, described the camp as “fairytale land.”

You would think that a camp like this would keep everyone separated the dancers in one area and the artists in another but no, this camp was all about diversity and letting everyone mingle and collaborate with one another.

“I found people I could relate to and had a joy similar to mine,” said Triplett.

Everyone had a hard time deciding what the best part of the camp was for them but after a moment of thought it was unanimous, they all responded with the people they met there and spent time with.

Seniors Joseph Johnson and AJ Collins both attended the camp for acting and had to perform two monologues on camera for their auditions.

One of Johnson’s favorite moments at MFAA was the “art jams” that everyone participated in.

“Everyone painted, made music and went crazy,” said Johnson.

Teachers would perform concerts and skits for the students. Triplett also enjoyed the jam sessions everyone had.

“It was like when you would watch a movie and everyone walking down the street would randomly burst into song,” said Triplett. ” It was so fun.”

These art jams would happen after the students were done with their classes. Each student had to attend class about the art that they auditioned with to improve their talents as well as delve into other fields of art to broaden their minds.

At any given moment the students were doing something productive that helped improve them.

Each participant shared the same worst moment there, when it was time to leave the camp and go home.

“Leaving was the hardest part because of all the strong friendships and connections,” said Stone.

Everyone was sad that the camp had to end but was content with the bonds they had made, the knowledge they acquired and the fact that they could go home to their families.

“I learned more skills within my division,” said Johnson. “Anyone given the opportunity should apply, especially if you want to grow in your field of study and mentally as a person.”

The resolve for each student’s craft has been reinforced with the memories and experiences at MFAA and they wish nothing but for everyone to experience what they did; they want now more than ever to continue to follow their dreams and do what they love. Triplett’s outlook on life changed and hopes that his words encourage the youth.

“To younger generations, this is a must, it’s life changing.”