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By Taylor Thomas, Community School of the Arts

Though the holiday season is generally marked by twinkling lights and the celebratory clanking of shopping carts, winter traditions are diverse and wide-ranging among Charlotte families.  I smile thinking about the various songs to be sung and decorations to be made within our own family of Community School of the Arts (CSA) students, but I also find myself thankful for one seasonal trend that we all can share.  With the end of the year comes the common inclination to reflect.

CSA students have opened their eyes to many new experiences through the Knight Artistic Engagement Fund.  As we see them reflect upon their past opportunities, we also hear them dreaming bigger, reaching farther and craving more.  Though we have just begun our second year of the program, CSA recognizes how impactful the continued support will be.  Through the process of observing the talents of professional artists and musicians, our students are simultaneously discovering the potential within themselves.

This fall, our low-income students and their families received access to the Mint Museum, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and various performances by Opera Carolina, Charlotte Concerts, and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra.  In order to gain perspective of their experiences, we ask our students to complete surveys after every event.  As they eagerly note a favored instrument, a particular story-line, or a memorable exhibition, students are removing art from its many venues that in the past seemed unattainable and making it tangible to them.

In response to the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s recent performance of Mozart Mass in C Minor, one student reveals the personal impact that one evening can have:  “I learned that music is something that can’t be expressed with words.  I want to be a musician for the rest of my life.”  The hope of CSA is that our students would never stop reflecting—no matter how many holidays, exhibits, or concerts come to a close.  If the past year with the Knight Artistic Engagement Fund has shown one thing, it is that as our students reflect on their experiences, they only better develop their dreams.

Charlotte Symphony in Belk Theater

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