School of the Arts students host art camp for North Charleston elementary students
Third-grader Tori Gentile loves to bust a move in her bedroom, but she’d never stepped foot inside a dance class or learned a choreographed routine.
Tori had the chance to do both on Monday during her spring break at a free arts camp hosted by School of the Arts students. The high school’s Jefferson Service Club organized the three-day event, and it invited students from six North Charleston elementary schools to attend.
About 30 showed up Monday, and Tori was among them. The Hursey Elementary School student couldn’t have been more excited.
“Dancing is like my best friend,” she said as she swayed to the music. “Dancing and I go perfect together. It expresses how I feel.”
School of the Arts senior and vocal major Alex James helped found the school’s Jefferson Service Club three years ago. The club’s more than 30 active members promote volunteerism and develop service projects that can involve the entire school.
They’ve participated in a range of activities, from cleaning beaches to collecting cans for the Lowcountry Food Bank, but this is the first year for the arts camp.
The idea was so innovative that it helped the school beat out five Lowcountry competitors to win Outstanding Service by a High School from the Jefferson Awards-Students In Action program. It’s the club’s second consecutive year to win the regional award.
School of the Arts will represent the state this summer while competing against 12 other high schools for the national title.
“I’m really excited about (the camp),” James said. “I think in years to come, it could get even bigger and better.”
Michelle Gorritti, the club’s advisor and a Spanish teacher, said School of the Arts students came up with the idea for the arts camp while brainstorming activities that could include classmates who aren’t in the club.
School of the Arts is Charleston County’s flagship arts magnet high school, and its students major in different arts areas, such as theater, dance and creative writing.
More than 85 percent of its students don’t come from the North Charleston community that surrounds the school, so the camp was a way to expose nearby students to the arts, she said. The camp also gave School of the Arts students a chance to learn more about their community, she said.
The camp had no budget, so students collected donations and asked their peers to lead sessions. On Monday, School of the Arts student volunteers outnumbered participants.
In the vocal group, Ja’Kayla Snooks sang with gusto while shaking her arms and hips to “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
The first-grader said she sings at home — Beyonce’s songs are her favorite — and when her Mom and Dad tell her to stop, she heads to the bathroom to practice some more.
She followed School of the Arts students’ directions and skipped around the room while on a break.
“I’ve learned about passion,” she said. “I thought it was going to be fun, and it is.”
Reach Diette Courrégé at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.