Norman students attend Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute

LONE WOLF -- Creativity abounds for two weeks in the southwestern Oklahoma terrain as an elite group of 270 young Oklahoma artists, including 24 students from Norman, develop their individual talents. Oklahoma's Official School of the Arts, the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain (OSAI), accepted Norman students to study in its unique arts educational program hosted June 8-23.

Chosen through competitive auditions, students attending OSAI experience a unique creative interaction with peers from across the state. The Institute provides world-class arts instruction to Oklahoma's most talented high school students in a creatively charged and natural environment.

Students study for six hours per day in one of eight disciplines in the literary, visual and performing arts. Evening performances, faculty showcases and demonstrations allow students the opportunity to interact with each discipline.

The following Norman area students are in residence at Quartz Mountain:

• Classen High School of Advanced Studies -- Cole Bergersen

• Community Christian School -- Joe Gooch and Ava Gorton

• Homeschooled -- Kyra Blevins, Natalie Emrich, Allie Roberts

• Newcastle High School -- Mariah Stephens

• Norman High School -- Theo Cohen, Henry Ingels, Sara Moore, Susan Morren, Casey Shapiro, Silas Stalnaker, Lilly Stover, Catie Thai, Bryan Yang

• Norman North High School -- Rodrigo Carmena-Black, Kai Cheng, I-Kang Kennedy, Rocco Middleton, Sarah Munsell

• Southmoore High School -- Alayna Bryson and Lauren Rigney

• Westmoore High School -- Hope Bellows

"My first year at the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute changed my life completely. I was surrounded by hundreds of talented students and world-class instructors every day. They really helped me improve my technique and skill as a musician, and helped me develop skills such as time management," Cheng said. "I am thankful to return to the institute for a second year."

Each student accepted to OSAI attends on full scholarship. This year, nearly 1,000 high school students auditioned for 270 available spots. Students study, reside and build community during this two-week institute, creating lifelong friendships and setting students on a course for future engagement with the arts.

Past OSAI faculty artists have included winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Academy, Grammy, Emmy and Tony awards. This summer, 34 faculty artists teach students in the disciplines of acting, chorus, creative writing, dance, drawing and painting, film and video, orchestra and photography.

"This experience should be an eye opening lesson on the behind-the-scenes aspect of filmmaking," Middleton said. "I'm excited to get hands on lessons from some of the country's most credible filmmakers."

Among the notable 2019 faculty is filmmaker, writer and journalist Annie Nocenti. Her films include "Disarming Falcons" (DOC NYC 2014) and "Taking Chances" (2009). Also a journalist, Nocenti's work has appeared in publications such as "Details," "PRINT," "Filmmaker" and her piece, "The Most Expensive Road Trip in the World," appears in Anthony Bourdain's collection, "Best Travel Writing 2008." Nocenti is most known for her work in comics, including stints writing "Daredevil" and editing "X-Men."

"Every student in Oklahoma deserves to have access to a well-rounded education, and I am proud of the work OAI has done for many decades to set the bar high for intense study and practice in the arts," said Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction. "The program's distinguished alumni and faculty -- including Megan Mullally, Tim Blake Nelson and Blake Bailey -- have made an enormous impact on the culture, and I have no doubt the talented young artists who attend the 2019 Summer Institute will make their own impressive mark."

Quartz Mountain Nature Park is set in the Wichita Mountains of southwestern Oklahoma by Lake Altus-Lugert. The arts and conference center boasts a 700-seat performing arts center, newly renovated studio pavilions and beautiful views.

"This opportunity to be surrounded by fellow dancers and artists of all disciplines is such an honor to me. I hope to fall in love with my art form even more over the weeks spent at OSAI," said Roberts. "I know that with the chosen faculty I will be supported and pushed to the best of my abilities."

The Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute culminates in ONSTAGE Weekend, a series of performances showcasing each student's work at the Institute. Performances and gallery openings are open to the public with no charge for admission. All students will be featured in final performances or presentations during ONSTAGE Weekend on Friday and Saturday. A full public performance schedule can be found online at

The Oklahoma Arts Institute (OAI) is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1977, with a mission to provide exceptional multidisciplinary arts experiences that develop individual talent and inspire a lifelong passion for the arts. In addition to the Summer Arts Institute, OAI administers a series of continuing education workshops for adults every fall.

Norman students' scholarships are made possible through funding from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the following donors: Caltex Petroleum Scholars Fund, Carrie C. Boren Scholarship Fund, Crawley Family Foundation, David and Molly Boren Scholarship Fund, Gloria and Jim Long, Inasmuch Foundation, Kirkpatrick Foundation, Inc., Mr. Chris Davis, Mr. Shane Merz, Roy Oliver Scholarship Fund and Sarkeys Foundation Scholars Fund.

Additional program support is provided by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Harris Foundation, Jerome Westheimer Family Foundation, OPUBCO/Anschutz Foundation, and Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. The project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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