Thursday, January 8, 2004

Warren explores performing arts school

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - Warren County high school students overwhelmingly endorse the idea of creating a performing arts school. It would be the first such countywide school in Greater Cincinnati.

The proposed school will be discussed by Warren County superintendents Friday when they review the results of a student survey in October and November that shows 98 percent of students questioned have at least some interest in such a school.

Lebanon Superintendent Bill Sears, an advocate of the school, said Wednesday that "we received some excellent feedback from students" and that support for the idea is growing among Warren County's eight public school systems.

It would be the second performing arts high school in Greater Cincinnati - the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati Public Schools is the first. Driving the study is the need to accommodate Warren County students interested in pursuing advanced studies in instrumental music, theater, vocal arts and dance.

"Today, private lessons or professional performances involve a long drive to either Cincinnati or Dayton," wrote Dawn Stone Voss, a Xavier University graduate student hired to survey focus groups composed of students participating in performing arts programs at the high school level.

Sears emphasized the proposed school would not usurp all the programs currently offered in Warren County high schools, but rather would allow "especially gifted and talented students" to pursue advanced study.

"We're not trying to take kids away from the school bands," said Sears.

The preliminary plan would have the school located in Lebanon and would allow qualifying students in Warren County to enroll full time or to attend a half-day each school day.

Kings school officials have previously endorsed the study for such a school and Little Miami High School Principal John Spieser said he supports further study because he favors "anything that will enhance the learning experience for kids."

"We don't currently have a strings program for our students so a fine arts school in Warren County would be good for them," said Spieser.

If the school is approved, Sears estimated it would open no earlier than 2006.


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