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African-American arts camp nurtures creativity

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Carolyn Thomas, a 9th- and 10th-grade English teacher in Huntington, began working with the African American Arts and Heritage Academy eight years ago, teaching creative writing.

“I like that it involves kids from a lot of rural areas,” she said. “They are exposed to so many things that they have never been exposed to. It plants a seed and lets them know that there is a larger world out there.”

The African American Arts and Heritage Academy was founded in 1993 and offers teenagers 13-18 one week of study in the creative or cultural discipline of their choice. Courses offered include history/culture, literature/creative writing, dance, museum studies, audio/video technology, vocal and instrumental music, theatre arts and visual arts.

The resident camp runs July 14-19 at West Virginia University, concluding with a talent showcase with about 40 campers attending. Deadline for enrollment in June 1.

Thomas now serves as the camp’s administrative director. During her time at the camp, she has been surprised at its impact on the campers, especially one particular girl.

“She was so angry and never smiled,” Thomas said.

The girl cried the first day and felt totally out place, Thomas said.

While Thomas knew that the girl could write and draw well, she was surprised when the girl chose to concentrate on singing at the camp, Thomas said.

When the showcase came, the girl had a solo.

“I had never seen her smile so much,” Thomas said. “Before, no one had recognized her ability and there was just a change in her attitude, her self-esteem … it’s a source of inspiration.”

The camp is looking for 40 partial scholarships at $125 each.

Since 1996, the Gazette Charities Send-A-Child-To-Camp Fund has made it possible for nearly 8,000 children to attend summer camps through full or partial scholarships from reader donations. All money donated to the fund goes directly toward scholarships at more than a dozen camps across West Virginia.

Credit card donations can be made online by clicking the camp fund logo on

The Gazette pays for all expenses incurred in the operation of the program, and all donations are tax deductible.

For information about the African American Arts and Heritage Academy, contact Norman Jordan at (304) 658-5526 or e-mail at normanjor…

SOURCE: WV Gazette


Written by Symphony

April 16, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Arts

Tagged with , , ,

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