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'Nerve-racking' audition over

February 07, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

250 audition for new arts school

Editor's note: This is the third in an occasional series that will follow Smithsburg High School student Clare McMahon through the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts application process. Clare was selected by The Herald-Mail staff and has not been given any assurances she will be selected for admittance to the school. Clare will find out if she has been chosen to be a part of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts' first graduating class by March.

A young girl performed grand jeté jumps the length of a hallway at South Hagerstown High School Saturday morning.

Two teenagers sat facing each other in the cafeteria strumming guitars.

And nearby, Clare McMahon sat waiting to be called to audition for a seat in a new performing arts high school opening this year. The Smithsburg High School junior was one of about 250 students auditioning Saturday to enroll in the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in downtown Hagerstown.

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The school is under construction now and is scheduled to open in August.

Clare, 16, has known for more than a year she would be auditioning for the school, and over the past several months, she has participated in a workshop, turned in an application and practiced her monologue and solo song she performed Saturday.

The school will have four disciplines, including dance, visual arts, theater and music. Clare is interested in studying musical theater.

Clare will learn in March whether she has been chosen. If accepted, Clare would be a member of the school's first graduating class.

After her audition ended about 10:15 a.m. Clare said she thought she did well, though she stayed up late the night before and said she was a bit sleepy -- perhaps the reason she forgot one of the lines from her monologue.

Still, Clare said she did the best she could, and overall she was pleased.

She arrived at South High about 8:15 a.m. and was scheduled to audition about 9 a.m. As a musical theater applicant, Clare performed a group movement activity with the other students in that group. She also performed a song -- "Vanilla Ice Cream" from "She Loves Me" -- a musical and a movie.

The monologue Clare selected was from "Brighton Beach Memoirs" by Neil Simon.

Clare also performed an unrehearsed reading with a partner, which she said went very well.

To prepare for Saturday's audition, Clare worked independently and with her voice coach. She takes weekly voice lessons.

She was a bit nervous waiting to be called Saturday morning and said the experience was a bit "nerve-racking."

"I'm really excited and everything," Clare said. "But I'm nervous."

The students were asked to wait in the South High cafeteria before being called to different rooms in the school to audition. Clare's friend, Katie Gigante, a 15-year-old Smithsburg High School sophomore, was waiting with her.

Katie was auditioning for the vocal music and musical theater disciplines at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. She was one of about 90 students who chose to audition for more than one area.

Clyde Harrell, Washington County Public Schools' director of secondary education, said officials were hoping to enroll between 150 and 200 of the students who auditioned Saturday. He said they'll take no more than 80 per grade level.

Fewer than 80 incoming juniors and seniors auditioned, and incoming freshman were the largest group.

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