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McMahon makes the cut at arts school

March 16, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Editor's note: This is the fourth story in an occasional series that will follow Smithsburg High School student Clare McMahon through the application process and student life at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. Clare was selected by The Herald-Mail staff and was not given any assurances she would be selected for admittance to the school. Clare's first day as a student at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts will be Aug. 19.

SMITHSBURG -- Months of waiting are over for Clare McMahon.

She has learned that her hard work, talent and drive landed her a spot as a student at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

The downtown Hagerstown school for the performing arts will open in August, and Clare, a Smithsburg High School junior, will be a member of its first graduating class.

"I'm excited," she said. "I'm proud of the achievement."

Clare auditioned in February along with about 250 other students for a seat in the new school. Clare auditioned for the school's theater program, where she will focus on musical theater.


Concentrations also are offered in dance, visual arts and music.

Clare and 162 other students were notified earlier this month that they were accepted to the performing arts high school.

Of those who were accepted, 160 said they planned to attend. About a dozen students were invited to be on a waiting list in case a seat opens up, said Clyde Harrell, director of secondary education for Washington County Public Schools.

The class breakdown of the students who were accepted includes 78 freshmen, 30 sophomores, 33 juniors and 19 seniors, according to a school system press release.

The number of students enrolling in each discipline is 28 in dance, 37 in instrumental music, 43 in theater, 28 in visual arts and 24 in vocal music.

Clare learned that she had been accepted following a Monday voice lesson. A friend who also auditioned sent her a text message asking if she had received her acceptance letter.

"I had just gotten out of my voice lesson and my mom had it in the car," Clare said.

Her friend, Katie Gigante, a Smithsburg High School sophomore, also was accepted.

That will make the transition into a new school in her last year of high school easier, Clare said.

"A lot of my friends are seniors already," Clare said. "So, I'm not really nervous about switching schools. Plus, my best friend is going as well."

Clare said she's most looking forward to performing in musicals and hopes there is at least one during the school year.

Harrell said sophomores, juniors and seniors will take their arts courses in the afternoon and academics in the morning. Juniors and seniors will have the option of attending academic classes at their home schools or at the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown building.

Freshmen will take their arts courses in the morning and academics in the afternoon. All academic classes for freshmen and sophomores will be at the USM-H building.

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