Art Of Academics

Academy Days Brings Performing Group To City

Black Violin performed at the Reg Lenna as part of the Academy Days on Friday with students from Jamestown High Schools. Students with interests in communications, performing and visual arts were able to watch the performing group, while other students were treated to similar-related events in their academy. P-J photos by Jordan W. Patterson

Jamestown High School treated its students to the second year of Academy Days, an event held four times a year when students are treated to a half day of school and activities related to field’s interests.

Jamestown has been using an academy style education for five years and currently has six academies. The high school offers pre-med/health science; business; communications, performing and visual arts; pre-engineering, manufacturing and industrial technology; pre-law/human service; and natural science.

Each academy was granted a half-day Friday but all experienced different activities. Once a year, the academies can also take a longer trip to visit a particular college or business.

For example, the Communications, Performing and Visual Arts Academy was treated to a performance by Black Violin, a live-performance group that features a viola player and a violin player, at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts.

Kevin Sylvester, the violinist, spoke to the crowd of performing arts students inside the Reg Lenna and encouraged them to break stereotypes.

“Look at everything from a different perspective and do what no one else has done before,” Sylvester said.

Sylvester told the crowd about Black Violin’s success and said playing violin has helped them perform for former President Barack Obama and all around the country. The duo, backed by a DJ and a drummer, played classical violin while infusing it with live drums and occasionally covering popular songs. Black Violin encouraged the crowd to find their own path and not be discouraged from a career path if it isn’t deemed “cool.”

“Make sure that you’re always breaking stereotypes,” Sylvester added.

Other academies hosted various speakers and visited different venues to showcase different career paths within their field.

Pre-Med students participated with hands on CPR and had two guest speakers; the Business Academy took its tenth graders to Cummins and its upper-classmen to the Chautauqua Federal Credit Union; the Natural Science students went to Tom Ridge Nature Center in Erie; Pre-Engineering students visited MTI as well as taking its upper-classmen to Ring Precision and Pre-Law students visited different places like the Mayors Office and its upper-classmen were treated to a presentation at the Robert H. Jackson Center.

Students choose their academy in March of their ninth grade year. For freshmen, they are also given a half-day and are treated to various events that are less specific to academies. Freshmen are given a tour of the high school and then encouraged to join the various clubs that Jamestown offers.

Principal Mike McElrath said while the academy program is still young, it has a lot of potential.

“We’ve had good support from the community when they understand what we’re trying to do with this,” McElrath said. “They’ve been very supportive.”