Portraits of Success
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successPortraits ofStudent highlights from Boston Arts Academys first 15 years
Boston Arts Academy (BAA) was founded on the conviction that academics and the arts are equally important to student development and achievement. As the citys only public high school for the visual and performing arts, BAA is committed to providing a rigorous arts and academic education to urban youth who seldom have the opportunity to focus on their creative learning. We know that the passion and creativity nurtured at BAA result in success. And as you will see in these pages, success comes in many forms. We also believe in helping students realize their dreams through the arts, which is why we do not review grades prior to accepting students. Almost 70% of our students come from low-income households and 40% read below grade-level when they arrive. BAA provides our students the tools and artistic expression they need to realize their dreams. Each year, over 94% of graduates go on to college, most the first in their families to do so.
I have had the privilege of teaching all of the amazing people you will meet on these pages. They all had challenges at BAA, but through their arts they have all come to embody our shared values: Community with Social Responsibility, Diversity with Respect, Passion with Balance, and Vision with Integrity. Thanks to private contributions from our friends and supporters, we are celebrating 15 years of artists, scholars and citizens. We hope you will be inspired by these Portraits of Success of our alumni. It is our way of saying thank you for keeping the Arts in Boston Arts Academy.
Anne R. Clark, Interim Headmaster
Success through PerseveranceBelen knew she wanted to be a dancer when she was a young girl although, like so many other girls at the time, she also dreamed of becoming the next Britney Spears. Her high school years were challenging in many ways, but Boston Arts Academy helped Belen through the tough times, making her more determined than ever to pursue a career in dance. While some of Belens classmates applied their creativity in other professions like engineering, teaching, or design after graduating, a little voice kept telling Belen to stick with dance through thick and thin. At the same time as she was dealing with a major injury, Belen was also fighting to stay in the country that she grew up in and loved. BAA surrounded her with support to navigate the political waters. The school also helped Belen heal by providing the opportunity to be an assistant dance instructor at BAA while she pursued her dream of becoming a professional dancer once again. She credits BAA with supporting her, especially in her darkest hours. Today, Belen performs all over the world with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I was helped by people at BAA that barely knew me - I didnt want to let anyone down. And if you dont fight for what you believe is yours, you wont achieve your dreams. I am living my dream now!
Professional Dancer Class of 2005, Dance Major
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theaters Belen Pereyra and Vernard Gilmore in Alvin Aileys Hidden Rites. Photo by Paul Kolnik
Success through Dreaming BigIf there was a way to clone BAA, it would have been done long ago. Jenni developed her beautiful singing voice in church. When the time came to choose a high school, Jenni knew that Boston Arts Academy would help develop her gift for music. But her mother was against the idea of Jenni attending an arts school. After much discussion, Jenni finally won her mother over, and they drove to BAA at the 11th hour to get her application in on time. To this day, Jenni is thankful that she convinced her mom to make that trip. And she is grateful that BAA encouraged her to question her world, think critically, and commit to social justice through her art. The older students at BAA motivated Jenni through their work ethic and by being open to new opportunities. She developed the confidence to accept constructive feedback in both her academic and arts classes, something that served her well as she took full advantage of Berklee Colleges City Music summer program. BAA teachers pushed Jenni to dream big and nurtured the skills she would later employ when starting her own non-profit organization - building music education centers in communities in the Dominican Republic. Jenni is well on her way to changing the lives of many in the Dominican Republic. Some might say she also is on her way to cloning the magic of BAA. Katherine Castro 2008, all rights reserved
Musician and Arts Educator Class of 2008, Vocal Music Major
Success through PassionI can take lots of drawing classes in high school!? Armed with the knowledge that Boston Arts Academy would allow him to pursue his artistic passion and grow his talent, Andre enrolled at BAA. Like many of his peers, he understood the beauty of discovering himself alongside his teachers in those early years. They expected a lot of us, and we took on each challenge. At the same time, we were, and still are, a family. With his artistic talent and the rigorous college-prep curriculum at BAA, Andre earned full scholarships to several prestigious art-focused universities. He chose to attend Cooper Union and knew right away that his time at BAA put him ahead of his class in technique, his ability to express himself, and being able to work with confidence and clarity. After graduating from college and working as an artist for a few years, Andre decided to change course and pursue another passion of his, physical training. Throughout his years of visual arts training at BAA and at Cooper Union, Andre spent countless hours creating figure drawings, studying human anatomy, and manipulating the body artistically. Andre is now a physical trainer and loves how his new career allows him to use his background as an artist in a completely different way. He attributes part of his newfound success a change that many would see as difficult - to his time at BAA: If I could give back of the passion instilled in me, Id feel justified.
Visual Artist and Physical Trainer Class of 2004, Visual Arts Major
Success through CommunityPerforming came naturally to Nikki, always dancing and singing as a child. But Nikki also had a hard time finding her place in middle school. The victim of bullying, she longed to be at a school where she could feel safe and part of a community. When Nikki was in 8th grade, her mother encouraged her to apply to Boston Arts Academy. Nikki was soon certain that BAA was for her. I was immediately struck by the strong community feeling, the caring nature of teachers, and camaraderie of the students. Nikki had finally found the right school. Although she discovered that many of her academic classes were challenging, they were also engaging because her teachers taught through the arts. By the time she got to Emerson College, Nikki felt wellprepared both academically and artistically to pursue theatre. She is a founding and Executive Board member of TC Squared, a theatre company comprised of BAA alumni that performs original works. Nikki is also the Arts Director at Dorchester Academy, a Boston Public School. She is using her skills as a teacher and administrator to create opportunities for students some of whom remind her of her younger self. Ive always wanted to connect the arts and education I finally have the opportunity to do that for my students.
Actor and Arts Administrator Class of 2001, Theatre Major
2012-13 Boston Arts Academy Student BodyHispanic 36% White 16%Black Hispanic
2% Other 1% Native Black 40%
65% qualify for 1 Free or Reduced Lunch 2
40% speak another MixedorOther language at homeNativeAmerican
of Boston Arts Academy 1 graduates go on to college, 2 many the first in their families to do so
Since the schools inception in 1998, nearly 8,000 students have applied to Boston Arts Academy. For the 2012-13 school year, we accepted 153 of the 947 aspiring artists, scholars, citizens who applied. Boston Arts Academy graduated its first class of 52 students in 2001. By 2012, the school has proudly graduated almost 900 students. Our graduates have earned $15 million in scholarships. Among our graduates are 4 Gates Millennium Scholars and 9 Posse Scholars. Our students have earned full-tuition scholarships from a number of schools, including Berklee College of Music, Northeastern University, The Juilliard School, and Smith College.
In 2012100% of BAA students passed the English Language Arts MCAS exam. 94% passed the Mathematics MCAS. 92% passed the Science and Technology/ Engineering MCAS. Through BAAs Literacy Development Initiativewhich targets students reading below high school level30% of students with the most severe literacy deficits consistently improved by 3-6 grade levels in each of the last two years. 100% of BAA seniors collaborated with community based organizations to design service projects that used their arts to fill a community need.
A Public High School for the Visual and Performing Arts
Celebrating 15 years of Artists, Scholars, and Citizens
Boston Arts Academy is a collaborative project between Boston Public Schools and the ProArts Consortium CITy Of BOSTON Hon. Thomas M. Menino, Mayor BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS Dr. Carol R. Johnson, Superintendent BOSTON SCHOOL COMMITTEE Rev. Gregory G. Groover, Sr., D.Min., Chair, Michael ONeill, Vice-Chair John F. Barros, Meg Campbell, Alfreda J. Harris, Claudio Martinez, Mary Tamer PROARTS CONSORTIUM Berklee College of Music, Boston Architectural College, The Boston Conservatory, Emerson College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, School of the Museum of Fine Arts,