by Destiny Hosmer
The Alabama School of Fine Arts will hold its annual Open House on Saturday, Nov. 7.
The Open House is designed to allow prospective students and their parents a chance to tour the school, learn about admission requirements and meet staff, faculty and current student ambassadors. Current sixth through 10th-grade students are encouraged to attend and learn more about the application process for the 2016-2017 school year.
“We have found that promoting one all-encompassing Open House is more efficient than having smaller ones several times a year,” said Bradford Hill, director of curriculum and instruction at ASFA. “However, we will increasingly offer informational sessions at various communities around the state that are much more informal. Stay tuned for more details as those events get put on the calendar.”
There will be three Open House sessions at 9, 10, and 11 a.m. The public is invited to come to any of the three.
Upon arrival, prospective students and parents will gather in the main lobby to be greeted by ASFA executive director Michael Meeks, who will briefly explain what ASFA is like, Hill said.
Student ambassadors will escort prospective students and parents to the departments they’re interested in where they will be able to hear and watch presentations by the chair, faculty and students from that department.
Prospective students and parents can visit tables manned by current ASFA students to learn more about the individual departments and the online application procedures.
ASFA staff prepares diligently for this annual event in hopes of attracting more prospective students.
“It takes a lot of coordinated effort to prepare our spaces for a public audience a mere 15 hours after the school day ends on a Friday,” Hill said. “All of our staffs work diligently to make certain our campus is in good shape for the 1,000 visitors we usually get for Open House.”
To prepare for the open house, the housekeeping staff works an extra shift prior to the event and ASFA registrar Melanie Lee works late into the night before and early in the morning of the event preparing and displaying flowers, balloons and some of the school and departmental regalia that is typically only shown off during graduation or more formal ceremonies.
Visitors to the open house will also get a taste of what the school is known for. “Open house guests will see mini performances from the arts students and, of course, a presentation in the math/science area,” said Peggi Davis, a spokeswoman for ASFA.
The public, tuition-free school teaches grades 7 through 12 and offers limited dormitory space, which figures into the reality of open house. “Our students turn ASFA into their home away from home, and our school is truly ‘lived in’— and it shows, in all the best ways,” Hill said.
The school usually receives about 400 applications, but only accepts about 100 applicants.
Admission is audition-based, and the requirements vary among six specialties: creative writing, dance, math/science, music, theatre arts and visual arts.
“We truly wish we could accommodate greater numbers,” Hill said. “We have a process of application, interview and auditioning that helps our faculty and staff determine which students have the greatest potential to succeed and thrive in the discipline they pursue.”
ASFA graduates have gained admission to the best art institutes, conservatories, colleges and universities, including Juilliard and SUNY Purchase summer programs. This year’s senior class earned merit scholarships averaging more than $132,000 each.
ASFA alumni include Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games trilogy, Emmy nominee and one of Time‘s Most Influential People, Laverne Cox, and Billboard #1 jazz flutist Kim Scott.
“The best possible combination for prospective students is to attend Open House and then later attend for an entire school day through our student shadowing program,” Hill said. “Most students fall in love with the school quickly, and that helps motivate them to accomplish even greater things in their determination to successfully interview and audition.”
Prospective students who may be unsure about their chances of being selected are still encouraged to attend.
“Even applicants who do not get accepted into the school often benefit from the process and have told us that the experience itself was self-validating and inspired them to push themselves in invaluable ways,” Hill said.
The deadline for applications and accompanying $50 application fee for the 2016-2017 school year is January 29. Auditions are held by invitation in March.
For more information on ASFA, admissions, student life and the curriculum, visit asfa.k12.al.us.