This summer, three Neosho High School students will have the chance to explore their artistic talents at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy.
Elizabeth Armstrong, Elizabeth Aguillon-Langley and Alex Williams are among 120 students statewide who were selected to attend the three-week academy held at Missouri State University in Springfield.
The academy runs June 9 through June 29, and all students who complete the course will receive three college credit hours.
Wendy Linton, Neosho High School sophomore counselor, said being accepted into the academy is an honor for the students.
"All of Neosho can be proud of that," Linton said. "They'll get to be around students from all over the state of Missouri, this is the best of the best."
The students were each nominated by a teacher, however, the application process didn't end there.
Students were expected to submit a sample of their talent, on video or CD recording, and submit an essay.
Linton said the selection process also takes into consideration the students' grades.
"It's not just talent they're looking at their grades too, to make sure that they're the type of student who can handle some dialogue and interaction and be able to stretch their imaginations and creativity," Linton said.
Elizabeth Armstrong, a sophomore who has been involved in theatre since the eighth grade, said she became interested in the performing arts after watching her sister's involvement with the high school drama department.
She says the application process and acceptance into the arts academy have helped her through an especially difficult time.
"It was an incredible honor just to be recommended, but it was also kind of a saving grace for me," Armstrong said. "The application time was also during the time I lost my father this year, and it really helped me get through that, to just keep working and to know that I was doing this not only for myself but also for him, and for the drama department and for my teacher Ms. (Linda) Nielsen."
Armstrong said she is interested in musical theatre and plans to study a mix of music and drama while at the academy.
Joining Armstrong at the arts academy will be sophomore Elizabeth Aguillon-Langley, who was nominated for her dancing abilities.
"My mom always wanted me to dance because my dad danced," Aguillon-Langley said. "She put me in it and I loved it."
She said she isn't sure what to expect from the arts academy, but suspects it may be similar to an intensive day of dance she attended at an Oklahoma City college recently.
"It was really hard but also really fun, so I guess it will be like that," Aguillon-Langley said. "It just boosts my confidence because being selected for this was a really big honor and to know that they think that I'm a great dancer is good."
Page 2 of 2 - Also attending the arts academy will be junior Alex Williams.
Williams, a member of the Neosho High School orchestra, will be attending the academy to study music composition.
He says his love of music started early. He began playing the cello in the sixth grade, and has since learned to write music.
"I wanted to try out for violin but I made a disgusting sound on that instrument," Williams said. "So, I went down the instrument line and I found out that I really like playing the cello."
He said once he got into orchestra he had a music composition assignment that sparked his interest in writing music.
"I've kind of built off that and just throughout the years I've come up with these random melodies," Williams said. "I'd be taking a shower or even washing my dog and I'd be coming up with these crazy melodies and I'd write them down on this little note card."
Last fall, the NHS orchestra performed music written by Williams at the Neosho Civic, with him conducting them.
"It was an amazing experience to stand in front of an orchestra and conduct it," Williams said.
Though they are each focusing on separate areas of study, the three students have made plans to join together for one course while at the academy. Armstrong said the three Wildcats will be taking a wind dancing class as an extracurricular.
Though their primary focuses differ, Armstrong said she believes the students can gain something valuable from any form of art.
"I've noticed, in not only theater but all forms of art, they not only help you grow as a performer but also teach you more about yourself," she said.
While the arts academy was formerly a state sponsored program, it is now funded through program fees, endowments, scholarships, and private donations.