Students to stage first performance

I love to see young people participating in organized sports, because there are so many important lessons to be learned: teamwork, discipline and perseverance among them.

But it's not just through sports that kids can develop those attributes. The performing arts teach the same lessons and bring beauty to the world around them.

That is the message Caroline Firczak is bringing to students at Gray Stone Day School in Misenheimer. For the first time, students at Gray Stone are participating in the performing arts.

This week they will showcase their talents in a public performance.

Gray Stone is a public charter high school on the campus of Pfeiffer University, on U.S. 52 across the Stanly County line (take N.C. 49 north from Concord and turn left on U.S. 52). Founded in 2002, it offers a college preparatory curriculum.

Firczak said this is the first semester that students have had the opportunity to participate in the performing arts at school, an extracurricular option for the approximately 300 students enrolled there.

Firczak is a professional musician and a doctoral student. She has taught private music lessons for years and is an adjunct faculty member at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

She began looking for other opportunities to teach the arts and wound up volunteering at Gray Stone, where she meets with about 25 students twice a week after school.

For the first hour, they work on choral music. Then another hour is devoted to drama. Most of Firczak's students belong to both groups, though some participate in just one or the other.

According to Firczak, there was already a lot of interest in the performing arts among the students at Gray Stone. Many of them have been studying and seeking performance opportunities on their own, but they welcomed an opportunity to work with their classmates.

Dustin Britt, a sophomore at Gray Stone, was very excited when he learned that chorus and drama would be offered at the school. Students there tend to be very serious, he said, about their academics and anything else they undertake. So he knew his fellow singers and actors would work hard.

They all have had to make sacrifices to participate in the performing arts while keeping up with their coursework. Britt hopes the result will be worthy of all the effort.

The very first performing arts event at Gray Stone Day School will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Pfeiffer University Chapel. It is free and open to the public; donations for the drama fund will be accepted.

The first part of the program will be the Chorale singing selections from various historical periods, including Vivaldi's "Gloria" accompanied by a student chamber ensemble from the Trinity Music Academy in Troy. It will conclude with a medley from "West Side Story."

The second half of the program will feature drama students in adaptations of two fairy tales: "The Emperor and the Nightingale" and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses."

Support the performing arts when you can. It's a most enjoyable way to learn so much.