A post by Caitlin Bauer, PAA Marketing Intern
In the summer of 2006, I was 14 years old and had just finished 8th grade. That was also the first summer that Performing Arts Academy existed, and I was one of about 20 students to participate in that first program. Nine years later, I’ve been spending my summer working as the marketing intern for PAA, creating promotional materials, capturing images and videos, and assisting with posting to social media (specifically Instagram, follow us @stlukespaa). In the time since I participated in that initial PAA program, it’s astounding how much the program has grown and changed.
That very first summer, PAA was worlds different from how it is now. The age cap was those who had just finished 8th grade, so I just made the cut. We only met for one week, in the afternoons. And the biggest change, we didn’t put on an actual show. Sure, we had a performance at the end of the week, with characters and songs and a rough storyline to hold it all together, but it was nothing like the performances PAA is now known for. We spent the week learning songs from around the world, music theory, basic choreography, and some acting fundamentals. The performance we put on at the end of the week took the form of a “school” performance, with a few students playing the roles of teachers. There were also a couple of students who played the role of “hoodlums” and, through the course of the performance and the power of music, reformed their ways. It was a rough program, but we had fun doing it, even when it got a bit cheesy.
Due to a variety of circumstances, I was not able to participate in another PAA program while I was still in school. Because of my connections with people involved in PAA though, I kept up on the growth of the program over the years. This summer I have been fortunate enough to see for myself the growth and change PAA has undergone. Instead of 20 students, PAA programs now serve hundreds of students every summer. Gone is presenting a haphazard collection of songs strung together with a plot line, this summer alone PAA has put on productions of Annie, 101 Dalmatians, High School Musical, Jungle Book, and Dinosaurs Before Dark. The students now spend 2 full weeks working on these productions and learning about music, dance, and acting.
Spending so much time around these students, it’s easy to see how much they truly enjoy these programs and getting to spend two weeks with their friends creating something amazing. While I enjoyed that first PAA camp, there is the part of me that wishes I had had the opportunity to participate in a program like the ones I’ve seen this summer. Although a lot has changed over the past nine years, one thing has remained the same. Performing Arts Academy cares about its students and wants to give them a space in which they can learn, perform, and grow.