It’s not easy to keep an entire auditorium quiet and attentive, but the crowd at Costa Mesa High School’s Open Mic Night night listened appreciatively, first to the guest presenter from Stop Hunger Now, and then throughout the 20-act evening of unexpected talents and obvious hard work. The evening was part of the new Costa Mesa High School performing arts program that the school is working to create.
The show ranged in age from the seniors’ trio of Collette Rhoads, Katrina Heil, and Riley Baldwin singing “Shake it Up,” to 8th grade middle-schooler Jordan Galanty performing Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts.” Double-threat singers with instrumental skills were also evident from the piano-accompanied first act of Stephanie Windsor doing “Heartbreak Hotel” and the songwriter Jacob Wrubel on electric guitar performing “Mirror Image” – “written by Jacob Wrubel,” he joked.
The new auditorium itself was a pleasure, with an arts-inspiring mural greeting visitors, and excellent sound that slipped through the doors invitingly for late arrivals like myself. But, it’s not just the building that’s new.
The school’s new ACE Academy of Creative Expression is only in its first year of freshmen, but its goals have already caught the attention of the L.A. Times in a 2014 article: “The idea is to be competitive with Orange County School of the Arts and Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts,” said Katrina Foley, a Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustee and newly elected Costa Mesa council member.
Like OCSA, the new ACE (Academy of Creative Expression) isn’t limited to the performing arts, but includes visual arts and theater technology. Their goal is to provide not just an arts programs, but an “arts based curriculum that infuses the arts into social science, math, science, language arts, and world language.”
While time will tell if it becomes another bastion of arts education, last week demonstrated an in- depth and driven approach, not just to arts but to life education. Foley hopes that the program will have families “clamoring to move to Costa Mesa so their children can have first priority in these arts programs,” but it is evident there is already a strong community embracing the opportunities that ACE provides!
If you’re a singer who’s interested in the new Costa Mesa High School performing arts program, check out the the choral director’s page on the school site, complete with last year’s application info and audition prep for songs. And if you want to see their work yourself, come see them at the 6/16 Stage and Screen Costa Mesa Choirs event!