A blooming opportunity

Catawba County high school students with a passion for theater arts will have a new option during the next school year.
Catawba County Schools, partnered with The Green Room Community Theatre, will launch the Green Room Academey of Drama, or GRAD program, for county students interested in theatre arts.
"If everyone will embrace it, Newton will be on the verge of a renaissance," said Sylvia Schnople, program director.
The program is open to juniors and seniors in Catawba County will offer intensive courses in theater, acting, movement and improvisation and is expected to start in fall 2011.
Classes are taught in the Old Post Office Playhouse, which has two classrooms in the building's basement for students' use. Students can also use the facility's blackbox theatre for other productions and performances.
"Basically, we have access to the entire building," Schnople said. "We feel like it's really important, especially with the economy the way that it is, to have as many partnerships as possible."
Green Room Community Theatre executive director Sherry Butler said the GRAD program helps the Green Room achieve its goal of spreading arts within the community.
"It's really part of what the Green Room is all about," she said.
Students start the GRAD program during their junior years, and commit half a school day to their theater lessons. Seniors will spend all day with the GRAD program, and will complete other academic work during a morninng block period through the North Carolina Virtual Public School.
Schnople said a recent survey showed about 400 students listed theatre as a potential college major, and students, "really needed something in this area for the arts."
Students must audition for the GRAD program, and application and audtion materials will be available at area high schools in late October.
"We're looking for dedication," Schnople said. "We talked with people about what they're looking for during auditions, and some of them said talent, but most of them said hardwork and commitment."
Schnople expects to have about 15-20 students from each grade level in the program during its first year, and she hopes the program will continue to expand after the first year.