Ziegfeld Arts Academy brings homeschooled kids together with fine arts courses

Sunday , August 20, 2017 - 12:00 AM

ANNA BURLESON, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Ziegfeld Arts Academy is giving homeschooled students a place to come together and learn about theater and the arts.

Youth Theater Director Kristin Parry said the program aims to expose homeschooled children to the arts and was launched during the second semester of the 2016-17 school year, drawing 28 students. This fall, 32 are already enrolled.

“I’ve really seen kids come out of their shell,” Parry said.

The home school students attend classes once a week and have several to choose from including dance, improv, photography and storytelling.

Josh Robinson teaches dance and dance history and said homeschooled children sometimes have different coping mechanisms than children in the public school system.

“The main thing we’re offering for these kids is a chance to socialize through the filter of the arts which they normally wouldn’t get, even sometimes in a public school situation,” he said.

Julia Lee’s family is Baptist and she teaches her children at home for religious reasons. Lee’s 16-year-old daughter Damaris took the classes last year and she’s re-enrolling this year along with her 11-year-old brother Reese.

Lee has a theater degree and said her children are already social, but she turned to the Ziegfeld Arts Academy so they could experience working under someone else.

“I was thanking God for it because it’s hard to find someone who gets homeschoolers,” she said.

Parry said they offer the homeschool student classes during the day specifically because that’s what those parents have requested.

“It’s so they can have family time in the evening,” she said. “That’s the advantage I feel a lot of them see in homeschooling.”

Lee highly recommends the classes because the material they teach is appropriate and she said she feels that the classes aren’t too costly.

“The staff, they all seem to really do this because they want to and they love it,” she said. “You never get the sense with anyone that they're there for a paycheck. They just love the arts and they want to be there for the kids.”

Damaris took photography, stagecraft and improv classes last year and because she had already enjoyed taking photos as a hobby, she really enjoyed photography.

“The first day of course it’s kind of awkward,” the teenager said. “You kind of watch everybody to see how it is but I’ve made one really good friend there. We’re both weird so we just click.”

Damaris said being homeschooled has attributed to her family being closer, but she also enjoys the chance to get out and participate in things like set design and improv — even though improv isn’t really “her thing.”

“With the stagecraft class I went in halfheartedly but I found that it’s really good to know the backstage work, not just be out in the spotlight,” she said. “It gave me actual experience.”

The classes run September through May and enrollment prices are available online at zigartsacademy.com.

Parry said the classes are open to school-aged children. Last year the youngest pupil was 6 years old and the oldest was 15.

At the end of each semester, the students showcase their work whether it’s an improv show, a photography exhibit or a choreographed dance.

Parry said she has seen kids in the homeschool program who are otherwise quiet and shy blossom on stage.

“They realize they’re not them, they’re a character,” she said. “They can put themselves into a character and perform as that character. If I can connect that with a child who’s struggling to be social that’s a good thing.”

Anyone interested in enrolling a child can call 855-ZIG-ARTS.

Contact education reporter Anna Burleson at aburleson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnagatorB, like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/BurlesonReports or you can subscribe to her weekly newsletter.

Sign up for e-mail news updates.