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The City Journals

Juan Diego Academy of Fine Arts unveils new class, lecture series

May 01, 2017 03:07PM ● By Julie Slama

Recording artist Joel Stevenett joins Juan Diego Catholic High School students at the kick-off of a guest lecture series focusing on entrepreneurship in the arts. (Juan Diego Catholic High School)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Recording artist Joel Stevenett told Juan Diego Catholic High School students about his life as a musician during the kick-off guest lecture series focusing on entrepreneurship in the arts.
As part of the school’s celebration of fine-arts week, Stevenett was invited to share with students about his career as a drummer.
“He tours with tons of people, he plays drums from soundtracks to video games, for country artists, in movies,” Juan Diego percussion director Jed Blodgett said. “He’s played for movie trailers and told students that many times the music is different than what actually is played in the movies. One of the stories he told students was that he was called in for a recording and learned when he went in, that it was for the Men’s FIFA World Cup. ESPN actually had a TV film crew there filming him playing while recording and they made a promo out of it.”
Blodgett said Salt Lake City is well known in the music recording industry, and Stevenett is often the first musician called.
“We wanted him to share with students what it’s like in the music industry, in recording, how he stays motivated, what inspires him. We want students to have a glimpse of exploring music in careers they might not consider, from music copyright to music therapy. The series also will include art, such as making mascots or graphic design, as well as to careers students may not think of in theater and dance,” he said.
The week also included the unveiling of a new class offering, Survey of Arts.
“Sixty-five percent of our students are enrolled in arts classes, but some students may want to take an art class that is non-performing, and that’s why we’re introducing this course,” Blodgett said.
The two-quarter class will give students an overview of two disciplines per quarter. The first quarter will focus on art and dance while the second quarter will study the content areas of theater and music.
“We believe the arts is important for every kid and adult to be a better person, to help them be able to express their emotions and those of others,” he said.
The week also allowed students to learn more about the new Academy of Fine Arts that began this school year. About 30 students, mostly freshman and sophomores, have applied to the academy.
Students in the Academy of Fine Arts will be expected to complete one of the three fine-arts advanced placement courses and two or more years of advanced fine-arts classes or ensembles such as advanced art, advanced ceramics, sculpture, advanced dance, dance company, advanced theater, wind symphony, advanced percussion, orchestra and concert choir.
“This will help the students organize their class load over four years and balance what they need to do,” he said. “We’ve seen when students are involved in the arts, they do well academically as they are more organized, use their time efficiently and put forth more effort in all their classes so all of their grades go up. We see the arts helping students interact with more people and help them to think creatively.”
The program also will include an internship, service work and a final project in the discipline. Those who meet the requirements will receive a recognition of the Academy of Fine Arts on their diplomas and transcripts as well as at commencement.
Blodgett said colleges that already are looking at Juan Diego students will take a closer look at the Academy of Fine Arts.
“We can encourage students to apply for scholarships and enter into programs once we establish them in the Academy of Fine Arts. This past year, every student in the music program received a scholarship for college. We’d like that to expand to all the fine-arts students. This program will give our students more legitimacy with the rigor that comes with it. We can push our students to work harder, dig deeper into their crafts so they will understand more of what it will be like in life and in college,” he said.