Arts Students Thrive in Summer Program

John F. Kennedy High school sophomore Karen Kuo spent her summer vacation expanding her artistic talents in a first-ever summer program offered by Anaheim Union High School District.

Kuo was among the district’s 100 most talented students selected to participate in the Arts Institute Summer Showcase. The five-week program, which began in late June and culminated with a special performance last week, expanded students’ understanding of visual and performing arts.

“The idea of this program was to give an enrichment experience for students,” said Darlene Hale, Arts Institute coordinator. “This was just another level for those students who want to pursue careers in the arts.”

The program was founded on the belief that serious arts students require extended opportunities to reach their full potential, district officials said.


Disneyland was a partner in the program, and its entertainment staff helped young students learn about dance, theater, visual arts or vocal and instrumental music.

Students also visited major art and cultural venues such as the Norton Simon Museum of Art, Laguna Festival of the Arts and Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Kuo, 15, a visual arts student, said the experience was challenging and encouraged her to excel as a young artist.

“This is one of the best summers I’ve ever had,” Kuo said. “It was a wonderful experience, and it broadened my knowledge.”


Michael Shelton, Arts Institute principal, said the hope is that the students take back to their own schools what they learned in the program.

“These students will return to their own school and arts program at their high schools and show their experiences, thereby improving the quality of all of the arts programs in each of the schools in the district,” Shelton said.

Students who completed the program earned 10 units of fine arts credit.