Goretti students have more arts choices

November 21, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

She's been dancing since she was 3, so for 14-year-old Anna Wherry, it was disappointing that her private school in Frederick, Md., didn't offer a dance program.

One reason she enrolled at St. Maria Goretti High School as a sophomore this year was for the school's dance course, now in its second year.

Dance is one of many choices available at the Hagerstown private school through a partnership with the Cumberland Valley School of Music.

The nonprofit organization is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, and offers lessons, classes and camps at six locations in the Tri-State area. Nearly 600 students are enrolled in the courses each year, with about 80 of those at St. Maria Goretti, said Andrew D. Sussman, executive director of the Cumberland Valley School of Music based in Chambersburg, Pa.


Students there take courses in choir, dance, jazz ensemble and string ensemble. After-school lessons also are available for those interested in violin, voice, piano and other talents.

"This is a real benefit for our students," Principal Christopher M. Siedor said.

About 30 students at St. Maria Goretti High School are enrolled in an introduction to music course, and 15 students are in the choir. Other students take dance, jazz ensemble and string ensemble courses, and about one-third of the school's students are taking classes provided by the Cumberland Valley School of Music.

Siedor said there is a possibility that additional courses in the arts could be provided.

Lauren Riviello, a senior, said she has been dancing since she was 4 years old, and decided to enroll in her high school's dance course, where she learned ballet, modern dance and jazz routines. There also is a choreography element, Lauren said, and students are able to create their own dances.

"I just think it offers them a world of opportunities they're not going to get at another high school," said dance teacher Rebecca Sariano, who owned Beckie's Dance Studio in Waynesboro, Pa., for 29 years.

The students have been preparing for a performance Dec. 2, when they will showcase what they have learned in the dance class. The performance also will feature students in the choir, string ensemble and jazz ensemble courses.

Riviello will perform a dance solo.

"I like how I can express myself in a different way, instead of writing something down on paper," freshman Isabella Schiro said.

Like Wherry, Schiro said most of her dance background and training is in ballet. However, Wherry said that through the dance class at her school, she has come to enjoy jazz and modern dance, too.

"I love to dance," she said.

If you go

What: St. Maria Goretti High School performing arts concert, featuring choir, dance, jazz and strings

When: Sunday, Dec. 2, 2 p.m.

Where: Beaver Creek Country Club, 9535 Mapleville Road, Hagerstown

Cost: Tickets cost $5 each and can be purchased at the door or in advance at St. Maria Goretti High School (301-739-4266) or the Cumberland Valley School of Music (717-261-1220).

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