This month, Arts Director Joseph Alvarado relaunches the innovative Bronx Prep Performing & Visual Arts Academy for Bronx Prep Middle and High School scholars. The after-school academy will be a rigorous arts studies program that fosters scholar leadership and passion for the arts.
The academy is unique because Bronx Prep 6th through 12th graders will have access to a wide variety of performing and visual arts, including dance, music, theatre, musical theatre, directing, and visual art and design. Alvarado points out that many students outside of Bronx Prep do not have access to such a robust arts program.
“This is still unheard of in New York City schools,” Alvarado said. “Quite frankly, I would venture to say, in most schools.”
Alvarado knows that Bronx Prep’s multifaceted arts program provides many benefits to the school and its scholars. One of those benefits is genuine scholar engagement.
“Giving scholars the opportunity to explore their innate creativity and discover a whole other world through the arts is something that often keeps scholars in school,” Alvarado said. “Sometimes it is the only thing keeping them in school.”
Another benefit of extensive exposure to the arts is widening scholars’ horizons.
“I think that just having the students being here is such a great opportunity for them to be able to explore a world they would not know about,” said Alvarado.
Alvarado also envisions the academy providing a sustainable model of student leadership, especially through the yearly musical. In future years, the middle school musical will be entirely scholar-produced. High school scholars will direct, stage, and design the musical from start to finish. This experience will develop the leadership skills of the high school scholars and foster mentoring relationships between older and younger students.
The program will also foster mentorship by bringing in Bronx Prep alumni to work with current scholars.
“Our younger scholars… need to see success stories from their own neighborhood, from their own schools, from people they know,” said Alvarado. “I think that’s really a big motivation for them.”
One such motivating success story is Bronx Prep alumnus Richard Jimenez. Jimenez learned how to play the cello while attending Bronx Prep and is continuing to study music in college.
“It’s one thing to hear about on the news, it’s like, well these people made it, and it’s very abstract,” said Alvarado “In the case of Richard, for example, kids in middle school know who he is and have met him. The fact that they know him and know this about him and know how successful he has been is certainly motivational.”
The Bronx Prep Performing & Visual Arts Academy begins on Monday, November 13, 2017.