Have You Ever Imagined A World Devoid Of The Arts?
By Alana Fitzgerald
Why is it important to teach the arts in our public schools? Just ask these 7th and 8th grade band students why music is important in their lives, and to the world as a whole. K. D. says, "Music lifts up your soul and releases it." A.s. says "I think music is important because music is a way that people can express themselves and if people couldn't express themselves there would be a lot more violence in the world." Life without music is like fasting for a teen - boring, painful, and dull," says M.M. "Music can bring peace, but it can also get me pumped," says T. W.
Studying the arts teaches both the mind and the soul. It builds self-esteem, helps the student appreciate other cultures, teaches teamwork, brings out sensitivity, creates a sense of family and belonging, teaches discipline and the value of hard work, and teaches the value of community service through the sharing of our gifts with others. Brain research confirms that Arts Education strengthens student problem solving and critical thinking skills, enhances spacial intelligence in newborns, and contributes to overall academic achievement and school success.
The public school system gives all students a chance to sample the visual arts, music, dance, theater, and technical theater. From these classes we get our future artists. If we discontinue Arts Education in the public schools, your imagined world devoid of the arts would become a reality.
The following pages give you a few examples of the beautiful lives of our young people who studied the arts in public school and have continued on to find a career in the Arts. Not only are these former students some of our brightest and most talented young people, but they are some of the most giving. They celebrate the Arts by giving their gifts to the whole world. We all are uplifted by their efforts.
Jesse Chapman, 25, grew up in Palm Coast, Florida. The summer before high school, he joined Flagler-Palm Coast High School’s summer theater program. “It was one of the most important decisions I ever made,” he recalls. “Mary-Lou Beale’s summer theater program was paramount in me discovering who I was, and what I wanted to do in life.” He maintained a consistent theater career through high school, primarily receiving character-actor roles: Martin Vanderhof in You Can’t Take it With You, Ben Weatherstaff in The Secret Garden, Cornelius in Hello, Dolly!, and Giles Corey in The Crucible. For his role as Cornelius, Jesse gained Seaside Music Theater's attention and they awarded him their esteemed Blazing Star Award. After high school, Jesse attended the University of Central Florida and majored in Film Production. He directed numerous short films, most of which were accepted into film festivals across the nation. His senior thesis film, The Exposition Report, won for best comedy at the Hyart Film Festival. Jesse currently resides in Hollywood, California and works in the editorial department on the Emmy-winning HBO show Entourage and plans to become a film and television editor.
Caitlin graduated from FPCHS in 2001. While there she dedicated most of her time to the theatre department. She put a majority of her work into technical aspects and was also employed by Flagler Auditorium to assist in setting up and providing extra support for a variety of touring and local acts. Caitlin was the president of the Thespian Troupe for two years and even appeared onstage a couple of times. Her favorite production was Little Shop of Horrors, where she was the puppeteer for the man-eating plant, Audrey II.
After high school, Caitlin attended the Florida State University for a B.A. in Theatre where she concentrated in Stage Management and Lighting Design. Her working knowledge of the theatre that she learned from Flagler Auditorium quickly gained her respect and helped her to earn title positions on School of Theatre shows. While there, she designed numerous student productions, many graduate projects and a FSU sponsored touring show. She stage managed regular season shows in all three venues, including her final project, Metamorphoses, which appeared in the Lab Theatre complete with a pool. In her senior year, she was also the Production Manager for student productions.
Upon leaving Florida State, Caitlin moved to Orlando. She first worked at SeaWorld Orlando as an intern in Environmental, Health and Safety. After the summer, Caitlin notched a job as a Special Effects Technician at Universal Orlando where she still works. She has been a part of building and running almost every marquee event, including Mardi Gras, Grad Bash, Rock the Universe, Halloween Horror Nights, the Macy's Holiday Parade and Grinchmas. She has also had the honor of working on a handful of Grand Openings including the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter where she has recently spent most of her time. Caitlin has been given a special assignment as an Assistant Stage Manager for this year's Halloween Horror Nights event and is excited to show them the skills she first learned at Flagler Auditorium.
I have fond memories of my time at Flagler Auditorium. I considered it my home away from home during my four years at FPCHS. I was extremely lucky not only to have an array of talented classmates, but also teachers and staff members that cared so much about education and the performing arts. These people inspired me to pursue a career in theatre. And of course, a state of the art facility didn't hurt either. I didn't realize just how lucky I was to have these resources until I went to college and learned just how rare and special they truly were. I still remember my first year where upper-classmen such as Katie Ahern and Karen Williams showed me how much theatre could really be.
My favorite production that I was a part of came in my Junior year when we did the musical Little Shop of Horrors. I got to puppeteer one of the leading characters, Audrey II, and walked the line of being both a technician and a performer. Currently, I am excited to be working with the amazingly talented Ale Martinez who played the leading lady, Audrey, in that same production. The performing and technical talent that comes out of Flagler Auditorium could only be rivaled by schools that list "Performing Arts" in their title.
There's an old Buddhist saying that goes, "You have to lose yourself to find your Self."
The truth is, during high school, I had no idea who "I" was, but I did know what I loved - theater. Well, ok, theater and tennis. But, as I was never any good at tennis - I was always the kid that got sent to the practice wall if the courts were all taken at practice that day - I was left with theater to lose myself (and find my Self) in. Theater also proved to give me a significant boost in the self-esteem department (which I needed after tennis practice). Thanks to my drama teacher, Mrs. Beale, and the Musical Theater Director, Mrs. Fitzgerald, and the good old Flagler Auditorium, I could be a star. Or, at least a person with a legitimate talent that was nurtured and supported and - sometimes, even - rewarded.
I remember my eleventh grade year, the school play was "Fiddler on the Roof." I heard it through the grapevine that Mrs. Beale and Mrs. Fitz had their sights on me to play Yenta - the Matchmaker! What a role! And what an honor! I was so touched to find out they had that much faith in me as an actor! What they didn't fully realize was that I couldn't sing a lick. They found it out pretty quick, though, when I bombed the part of my audition when Mrs. Fitz sprang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" on me. It may sound silly, but you try singing it! There's some high notes in that song! When it came down to it, I was cast as Grandma Tzeitle. The fact that she was dead and came back to sing a song from the grave fit my vocal abilities a bit better, apparently. Still, it was wonderful. To be part of such a great cast, and to perform for such a packed house night after night in the Flagler Auditorium was an honor and a joy, something I'll always remember.
Even though I majored in Journalism, and then Sociology, I always continued to take acting classes in college. At one point, I joined a masked theatre troupe, where we went to Chile to perform in the International Theater Festival, representing the United States. Ours was an odd but brilliant piece, written and directed by two creative geniuses, and audiences either "got it" and laughed, or were insulted and walked out. We loved it, though, and only ever had good intentions at heart. And we had a great time.
After college, I got involved with avant-gard artists and dancers, and we did our own "performance art" whenever and wherever we could - in bars and clubs and coffeehouses. At people's homes. Sometimes in the street. At events we threw ourselves. At political rallies. For no reason whatsoever. It's always been good to perform.
In fact, writing this tiny memoire makes me wonder why I haven't been performing lately. Currently, I'm in film school in Los Angeles. I do love it - my focus is editing, which I love because it's endlessly creative. But, there's never been anything like acting for me, like performing on a stage, for me. - Not editing, not journalism or sociology or even tennis. Even now my heart beats for it. I'm forever grateful to Mrs. Fitz and Mrs. Beale and the theater department at FPC and the Flagler Auditorium for what they gave to me, and for what's stayed with me throughout my whole life - not only the chance to shine, but the chance to discover what it is that I love. And finding and doing what I love, I've realized, is nothing less than discovering my very own self.
Karen received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from the University of Utah’s Ballet Department with an emphasis in ballet performance and was awarded the William F. Christensen Scholarship. She trained at the School of Performing Arts in Orlando, FL and many local schools around Flagler and Volusia Counties. While studying at the School of Performing Arts she performed with a pre-professional ballet company called Ballet South around Orlando, Florida. Karen had many principal roles and performed in many ballets including Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Le Coursaire Pas de Deux, A Mid Summers Nights Dream, America, Valhalla, The Four Seasons, The Nutcracker, Modern works by Ellie Potts, and Jazz pieces by Pamela Bolling . Karen danced with the Boston Ballet, Orlando Ballet and the Nutmeg Conservatory Summer Intensives. After dancing with the U of U for a year, she danced with Utah Ballet for three years and performed at Kunghee University in Seoul, Korea. Karen graduated from the University of Utah's Ballet Department in 2008 and has been the Ballet Director of the Creative Arts Academy in Bountiful, Utah for the past 3 years. While at the studio she has choreographed and directed many ballets including Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Romeo and Juliet. In September of 2011 Karen will be attending University of California Irvine to complete her Masters of Fine Arts on a full scholarship. She will be teaching undergraduate level ballet part-time as a Graduate Assistant. During the time she is out in California she also hopes to pursue her professional dancing career.
For the last twenty years, Flagler County has been my home. From the community performances to the shows our schools put on stage, the arts has always been one of our best qualities here in Flagler. I started off performing in the Wadsworth Elementary annual school musical, I sang in the Buddy Taylor Middle School Chorus and became proud member of the Flagler Palm Coast High School Formality Singers. In high school I was a member of the Thespians Society and participated in the school musical. Realizing how much I simply loved being around the arts, I constantly searched for more ways to get involved. As a freshman, I began to volunteer for the Flagler Auditorium. I distributed programs, ushered, helped with concessions, greeted guests as the entered the theatre, etc. I did whatever needed to be done. After volunteering for a while, I was given the opportunity to work in the box office. In this position, I began to grow as a person realizing how much I also loved working and interacting with people. The summer before my junior year of High school, I attend the Florida State University Summer Music Camps. At the camps I was able to work with many world renowned professors and conductors. Watching these educators take a piece of sheet music and more than 100 students that had never sang together before and turn it into something that was absolutely beautiful simply blew my mind! The presence they had on the podium was something that longed for. My experiences with the patrons and guests at the Flagler Auditorium, my high school choir director, Amy Fulmer and the FSU music camps made it extremely clear what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. In 2009, I graduated from Flagler Palm Coast High School and was accepted to Florida State University where I am currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in Choral Music Education. After completing my degree, I envision myself as a high school Choral Director. My ultimate goal is to earn a Masters degree in Choral Conducting and a Ph.D. in Music Education and become a Professor of music. I can not express how thankful I am to Lisa Mcdevitt and the auditorium's staff and volunteers for allowing me to be a part of such an awesome establishment. The 2011-2012 season will mark the seventh year as an employee for the Flagler Auditorium and I look forward to years to come as I complete my degree and begin teaching in the public school system. In the words of William Congreve, "music has charms to sooth a savage breast...
Pianist Christina Lalog has performed throughout the USA, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. She recently completed a Post Graduate Collaborative Piano Fellowship at the Bard College Conservatory of Music where she worked extensively with the Graduate Vocal Arts Program lead by Artistic Director, Dawn Upshaw. Miss Lalog has spent summers as a collaborative pianist at Music Academy of the West, Quartet Program, "Si Parla, Si Canta," Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory, Madison Summer Cello Institute (faculty pianist), Brevard Music Center, Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, and the Gesher Music Festival of Emerging Artists. Her collaborative highlights include recital broadcasts on Wisconsin Public Radio, and performances with artists such as violinist Charles Castleman, bass-baritone Kyle Ketelsen, and mezzo-soprano Kitt Reuter-Foss. She also assisted renowned oboist, Elaine Douvas, in the preparation of a recent concerto performance. A varied musician, Miss Lalog prepared the keyboard reductions of Handel's Messiah: The Solo Variants (2009) with performance notes by Chester L. Awles through Roger Dean Publishing Company.
Currently, Miss Lalog is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Collaborative Piano at University of Colorado- Boulder with an opera teaching assistantship. She received a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree from Stetson University. While at Stetson, she received the Presser Scholar Award, Leroy Greenspan Award for Community Service, was a prizewinner at the MTNA Florida state piano competition, accompanied the Stetson Concert Choir and Stetson Singers, and graduated summa cum laude. Her main teachers have included Jean Barr, Michael Rickman, Stella Pola, and Gary Wolf.
Christina's interest in chamber music began at a young age, thanks to the musical community of Flagler County. She accompanied several choirs including the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton adult choir, Flagler Palm Coast High School Chorus, Flagler County Music Society, and the Choral Arts Society of Flagler. Miss Lalog also frequented the Flagler Auditorium orchestra pit as pianist for many musical theater productions by Flagler Palm Coast High School, such as Little Shop of Horrors, Pippin, and Mirette, as well as productions by the Little Theater of Palm Coast-- South Pacific and Purlie. She was also crowned Miss Flagler Palm Coast High School on the auditorium stage in 2001.
David Pandich is a member of Flagler Palm Coast High School's graduating class of 2005. His experiences at FPC were a foundation for his future as an artist and art teacher in Flagler County. Beginning with the summer leading into his freshman year, David had the opportunity to participate in a summer acting class which involved the production of a main-stage play. It was here that he had his first experiences with Mary Beale, Jack Neiberline, Alana Fitzgerald and many of the students with whom he worked throughout his high school career. During the following years, David took part in several main-stage productions, acting classes, the formality singers, the Thespian Society, jazz band, and even the school's flagship barbershop quartet. Needless to say, the myriad of opportunities available for performances far outreached a typical high school experience; especially when coupled with the rigorous honors and AP courses offered at the school.
With this performance experience in tow, David won the Priscilla Parker Scholarship for theater at Rollins College, and went on to perform at the Annie Russell Theater in Winter Park, Florida. At Rollins, David met Dr. Robert Moore during a linguistic anthropology class, and was offered the opportunity to travel to China for field research to co-author a paper discussing modern Mandarin slang. This article, "Language with attitude: American slang and Chinese liyu" is currently published in the Journal of Sociolinguistics, was the impetus for David to major in Anthropology, emphasizing linguistics and Chinese language.
Now, David has settled down in Palm Coast with his wife, Mandi, and is currently in his second year of teaching acting at Matanzas High School. Looking back, it is clear that the only reason such a tangential path through life was possible came from the curriculum and opportunities at FPC. Without such a variety of rigorous academia and creative outlets, a life where trying and, ideally, mastering everything would simply be unreasonable. For the FPC graduate, an imaginative and fulfilling future is within reach.
In 1994, Mary Beale asked if I might be interested in participating in our fall school musical with some of her students. She was looking for an adult to play Daddy Warbucks. I had never dreamed of doing anything like that and reluctantly agreed to try. Under Ms. Beale's direction, I learned a lot about the theatre, but I learned a lot more about myself. Mary helped me gain confidence in myself as a person and introduced me to the fascinating world of theatre. Since that time Mary trusted me to play Good Sam in Western Star, Charlemagne in Pippin and the voice of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. I am grateful to Mary for having the courage to ask a teacher to work on stage with students, some who have gone on to be successful in the Arts.
As a school principal I do my very best to protect the arts from budget cuts. My own children were in band, chorus and drama and their still carry with them the lessons they learned from the time they spent with their teachers. Adults like Alana Fitzgerald have cared enough about the children of our community to take time out of their own lives to pass along the magic and majesty of the Arts. We test reading, writing, math and science because that's what the state says is most important. But some of us know what is really important, music and art. Congratulations to the Flagler Auditorium on its 20th anniversary!
After graduating from Flagler Palm Coast High School, Andrew studied music at Stetson University in DeLand, FL. During his time there he studied voice with Dr. Kandie Kearley and Dr. Steven Ng and participated in productions of La Rondine, Songs For A New World and Sweeney Todd. Upon graduating he moved to New York City where he currently resides. After spending a few years working in the Technology Department of a High School in the Bronx, Andrew pursued his dream of becoming a full-time musician. He has had the pleasure of music directing various productions in the city such as Little Shop of Horrors, Woyzeck, and Erotic Broadway: Vintage Variety. Andrew recently music directed Cutman: A Boxing Musical at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theater and provided arrangments for the new musical South Street at The Pasadena Playhouse and Frankie and Debbie: Live at the Martini Lounge. In addition to his music directing and arranging he also has composed original music for a production of Martin Sherman's Bent and scores for the short films Cuba, 1961: A Love Story, and Timeless as well as music and lyrics for the opening song for the Make A Wish Foundation Benefit Broadway Sings The Phonebook, and the original musicals Requiem and Same Color Sky.
My very first show at the Flagler Auditorium was a musical called The Triumph of Love. It was performed at the beginning of my freshman year in high school. Since then, I’ve been blessed to perform in over 8 productions at the Flagler Auditorium. Some of my favorites were Seussical (Gertrude), She Loves Me (Amalia), Brigadoon (Fiona), and Fame (Serena)… just to name a few! The Flagler Auditorium was also home to many choral concerts, benefits, and competitions in which I performed and competed. It became somewhat of a second home to me, and I hope to one day perform on that stage again!
After high school, I attended Elon University in North Carolina. There, I studied musical theatre – training in acting, singing, and dancing. In school, I had the opportunity to perform in several different musicals, concerts, benefits, and master classes. Most recently, I performed in Children of Eden, Rent, and It’s Only Life (a John Bucchino song cycle in which John Bucchino himself actually played piano for us!). In my senior year, our senior class had the opportunity to audition for and learn from some prominent New York City agents and casting directors. In the spring of this year, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Theatre.
In the summertime, I continued my education by working professionally for different theatres and companies. Just recently I worked out in Bardstown Kentucky at Stephen Foster Productions. This summer, I worked for RWS and Associates – an entertainment firm that produces entertainment for various corporations, theme parks, cruise ships, shopping centers and conventions throughout the country. I hope to continue working in this profession as long as possible! I am thankful to the Flagler Auditorium, and the people who run it, for giving me the opportunity to perform when I was just starting out!
I can hardly explain how lucky I felt - and still feel - to have been able to perform in such a wonderful auditorium while at FPC. We had real stage lights, real microphones, real stage crafters, real wings... and a real pit! Unfortunately, these are things that many kids never experience while in high school. It made the transition to college-level performing extremely smooth; no one had to tell me not to play with props, or to keep my eye on the conductor, or to be nice to the stage manager! All of those things were a given part of our environment in the Flagler Auditorium. They became ingrained in me, not just as a performer, but as a human being.
As anyone whose been involved in the performing arts can tell you, a positive experience on stage can easily translate to positive experiences off stage. Just like a stadium means everything to a sports team, so did the Auditorium to all of us at FPC. It was there that we were vulnerable, brave, silly, emotional, determined, disciplined, and everything in between. We were able to share all of these aspects of ourselves with each other, with the faculty, and with an audience of up to 1000 people. Honestly, who could ask for more?? Certainly not me. Happy 20th birthday, Flagler Auditorium. Here's to many more trips around the sun!
When I began High School in 1989, there was no "Dennis Fitzgerald Performing Arts Center." We did all of our performances in the old cafeteria. Needless to say, our feelings of professionalism wained a bit, due the the lack of acceptable performance space. Audiences too, were wary of sitting through a performance in an acoustically and visually barren setting. But, true to the spirit our fearless leader, Alana Fitzgerald, who in instilled in us the fighting spirit, we made do, and made some great memories. When I first sang in the new hall, I was astonished. I felt like a professional, and I believe that the settings and capabilities, did indeed, make me more professional. I was the first student to sing a full recital in that hall, and amid the doubts promulgated by fellow students and faculty alike, Alana and I nearly filled that auditorium to capacity. It was a memory I will cherish for forever. I have subsequently have performed two solo recitals in that hall since that date, both times to a near capacity audience, and loved every minute of it. As a student, we were able to perform our musicals in the hall, and it made we students feel like we were pros, and that we could do anything! I have also had the pleasure of watching many concerts, both scholastic and professional, at the DFPAC, and was very pleased with its overall capabilities, especially for a town as small as Palm Coast was. But, honestly, the memories I will cherish forever, are those of working with Alana Fitzgerald, the loving wife of the man whose name graces the structure. There, she taught, mentored, scolded, and loved us into the professionals we became. It was the perfect venue for a perfect woman to instill the love of music, the love of hard work, and the love of each other, into a rag tag smathering of extremely talented adolescents. While Alana would have been the same regardless of the surroundings, her teachings were amplified by the ability to perform, during those budding young ages, in such a place. It is my hope that that tradition will continue for many generations to come, and that those who sit in council on what and who performs there will never forget that the greatest legacy of their position, the Performing Arts Center, and of FPC is the affect that that place can, if allowed, have on the hearts, minds, and souls of the students in whose halls they frequent.