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Linda Oppelt

SMHS to offer new music and theater classes during 2022-23 academic year

By Amy Partain

COLORADO SPRINGS. As students return to St. Mary’s High School in a couple of weeks, they will find a burgeoning fine arts program awaiting them. In addition to a renewed visual arts program that started last year under the direction of Rosario Weston, this year students will have new musical and theater opportunities on campus under the tutelage of Daniel Foster.

The expanded fine arts program perfectly complements St. Mary’s college-preparatory academic offerings that include a four-year STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program, said principal Robyn Cross.

“Infusing our fine arts program is something we’ve wanted to do for years and with the addition of Rosario Weston last year and Daniel Foster this year, we are building an excellent program,” Cross said. “Our students will have more fine arts choices, which will help them find and pursue their passions, regardless of their area of interest.”

Foster comes to St. Mary’s High School from Divine Redeemer Parish, where he spent the last seven-and-a-half years as the parish’s musical director and the school’s music teacher. He said he enjoys the freedom that Catholic schools provide to explore the Catholic roots of music without having limitations on what can be discussed about religion. Foster also said that he enjoys seeing students engage in their faith in a deeper way as they do so through music.

“Music offers a way for many students to get involved in Mass as active participants,” he said. “When students have a passion for music and they join the choir or music ministry, they have an opportunity to worship from that place of passion. That allows them to grow as Christians and experience their faith in new ways.”

Starting with the 2022-2023 school year, Foster will teach Mass Choir, Performance Choir, Theater I and II, Music Appreciation, and offer private instruction for those who play string instruments. The Mass Choir will perform each Wednesday at the all-school Mass, while the Performance Choir will do outreach visits and perform throughout the Colorado Springs community.

The theater courses will allow students to work on their skills through improvisation and acting out scenes. Students who are interested in theater but aren’t able to take the class can still participate in the fall play or spring musical through the drama club that Foster will advise this year.

“I’m excited to work with students who have a passion for music or performing arts like theater,” Foster said. “When you are teaching students who are passionate about the subject, you are able to delve more deeply into the subject matter.”

Weston took over the visual art program at St. Mary’s for the 2021-2022 school year. The first semester students worked on technique and skills, which they applied during the second semester through Weston’s “Art in Public Spaces” focus.

This included the students entering competitions, exhibiting their work at the library, and participating in the silhouette competition sponsored by the Western Heritage Spring of Colorado Springs group. The St. Mary’s silhouette placed third in the competition in 2022, continuing a long tradition of placing in the contest.

This year, in addition to the art courses that were offered last year, Weston has added a course called “The Business of Art” that will show students the business side of the art industry, including buying and selling of pieces and more.

“Rosario did a fabulous job last year in encouraging our students in their art while teaching them fundamentals,” Cross said. “I’m excited to see what both the art students and the music and theater students produce this coming year.”

For more information on the school’s academic programs, visit smpirates.org. Prospective families can also schedule a tour of St. Mary’s High School by calling the admissions department at 719-635-7540.

(Amy G. Partain is Director of Communications and Marketing for St. Mary’s High School.)

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