OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – If art is what you do, if performing in front of a live audience is what you live for, then you might understand a little of what the visual and performing arts students at Classen School of Advanced Studies and Northeast went through under COVID-19 restrictions.
“It took away our performing opportunities,” says cellist Derahlynn Horton.
From tuning to tunes, strings to steps; all were silenced.
Orchestra teacher Kim Banz compared it to an amputation.
“Not being able to meet with them in person, and not allowing them their performance opportunities, was like taking a piece of them away,” she says.
Within the school walls restrictions are still extremely tight.
No visitors, no audiences, masks mandatory.
But outside is where dance instructor Erica Vasquez’ pupils found a little extra room, and where Matt Denman’s guitar students carried just enough tune to allow for a live audience to find them.
“Performing is a really big thing for me,” says vocal major Robert Cochrane.
Violist Jordan Fletcher says, “It feels a little different getting back into it, but once you are it feels really good.”
Sophomore Carys Mannin argues her school “lets everyone express themselves how they want.”
Putting the old “showbiz” to work, students and faculty figured out a way for the show to go on by organizing the school’s first ever Fall Festival, a one-night showcase, outdoors, right in front of the school building originally constructed in 1937.
Three large relief tiles over the front door highlight Scholarship, Service and Character.
Principal Scot McAdoo suggests room be made for Performance as well.
“Engaging our kids in a safe way,” he cautions, “in their passion, and really celebrating what Classen is all about.”
Within the thick walls, visual and performing arts students can spend half of each school day exploring all kinds of individual expression.
They still can’t invite people in, but on these crisp, calm, fall days, even these sturdy walls don’t hold.
The show will go on after all for anyone who stops outside to watch and listen.
For more information on Classen SAS at Northeast, go to www.okcps.org/Domain/80.