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California State Summer School for the Arts in California Institute of the Arts

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The first thing teachers ask when you get back to school is “What did you do over summer vacation?” For some, the answer includes watching television or tanning in your backyard, but for others, it includes “four weeks of exploration, discovery and hard work designed to unleash your creative power”.
InnerSpark at the California State Summer School of the Arts is a rigorous training program designed for talented artists in high school. It was created by the California Legislature, and held its first session in 1987. The 22nd anniversary session will be held this summer, July 12-August 8. Studies include music, theatre, visual arts, dance, creative writing, film, and animation. Applications are lengthy, and the atmosphere is competitive. Only about half of the students that applied last year were accepted. But InnerSpark provides a supportive environment, encouraging students to explore new ideas for an “intense and exciting learning experience”.
CHS had many talented artists attend this program last summer, including drama students Devin Jewitt (12), Chris LaBrot (12), and Lauren Wolf (11), visual arts students Miranda Beatty (12), and Kile Bigbee (12), music student Allie Cohen (12), and Tyler Guisti (11), who attended once for creative writing, and once for animation.

The purpose of InnerSpark is to provide training for future artists who wish to pursue careers in the arts and entertainment industries in California. Tyler explained, “It’s like finding the type of person you’re like, then multiplying it by a hundred and getting everyone together for a month.”

Students invited to the school are named California Arts Scholars and receive the California Arts Scholar Medallion. They are taught by professionals and distinguished university instructors in their chosen discipline. As Allie said, “It’s good to have different teachers that give you new ways to perfect your talents.” While she was there, she developed a new appreciation of music as she was exposed to more modern ideas. Tyler explained, “You learn things that you can’t learn in any other scenario”. Chris also commented that the way the teachers explained the material and had them actually do it had a vast impact.

According to Tyler, “It’s really about the people and the connections, and immersing yourself in that atmosphere” Kile stated that it was refreshing to “be able to be in an environment totally devoted to art”. While he was there, he learned how to take in experimental art, and not reject images just because they’re confusing or a little on-the-edge. Allie enjoyed the interaction with students from other studies, and commented, “My roommates and I were like a family.” Recreational activities including concerts, sports activities and poetry readings in the student coffeehouse, bring the sense of a community to the campus.


InnerSpark is all about how every aspect of art is connected. It just goes to show that art is a universal idea that can be expressed through many different ideas and actions.
As Allie commented “Everyone should apply!”





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