Students who attend schools in the Carolina Forest cluster will be able to take advantage of more fine arts programs as part of a new initiative aimed at branding those institutes as the fine arts hub for Horry County Schools.
Some of the district’s nine attendance areas either already have rallied around a unifying identity – such as the Myrtle Beach cluster’s Covey initiative – or have begun exploring niches that their clusters might own. Carolina Forest High School’s success in performance and visual arts provided a natural fit for following the fine arts identity, which received an OK from the school board Tuesday night.
Velna Allen, HCS executive director for high schools, told the board that community interest in a fine arts magnet school has been high for the last year and a half. She said principals at schools that serve the Carolina Forest area are excited about the new plan, which they collaborated on with district officials earlier this month.
Fine arts options are going to be increased over the next two years at the cluster’s six elementary schools and two middle schools – the under-utilized Black Water Middle School and the overcrowded Ocean Bay Middle School. The plan includes creating a dance program and expanding the art program at Black Water, and school officials believe the fine arts emphasis will encourage more transfers to Black Water from Ocean Bay and balance enrollment at the two schools.
The plan includes the addition of an art teacher and a dance teacher for Black Water at a cost of $141,920. Additional costs include $25,000 to convert a classroom into a dance studio; $22,000 for an iPad cart for digital arts; and $13,000 for supplies and furniture.
The high school, which is known for performing musicals such as “Aida” and “Cats,” currently offers a wide range of courses in drama, orchestra, band, technical theater and choral programs, including its popular show choir. Allen said the school also has two advanced placement art classes, with a third being added next year, and that students in the cluster will have to begin taking art at an earlier grade in order to take advantage of all the art classes in high school.
The Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology also offers a dance program, but it is dwindling, Allen said, although they believe the fine arts emphasis will help that program and not hurt it. She said dance is thriving around the area in private dance schools - which teach hip-hop as well as traditional dance – and that the new plan will give opportunities to students who could not otherwise pursue their dance interest.
Opportunities are being explored at the cluster’s elementary schools and include a variety of ideas. Some that have been proposed include adding musical theater at Ocean Bay Elementary School, adding an African drum program at Carolina Forest Elementary School and adding digital art at Waccamaw Elementary School. Those are in addition to strengthening existing programs in the cluster, which also includes South Conway, Palmetto Bays and the new River Oaks elementary schools.
Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_VickiGrooms.