Loudoun considers musical theater magnet

The Loudoun County School Board is considering a musical theater magnet program that could start as soon as next school year.

The proposal, which will be presented to the board Tuesday night, was developed by a Leesburg mother who was frustrated that the county has advanced programs for budding chemists, builders or mathematicians, but not for aspiring actors and dancers, like her high-school aged daughter.

“There is all this emphasis on science and technology, and there is absolutely nothing for student artists in the community,” said the mother, Wendy Marco, who found that Loudoun County was the only large school district in the state without an arts magnet program.

In just three months, Marco put together a proposal for a pilot program that she says would have minimal fiscal impact and potentially provide a blueprint for developing a more diverse array of magnet programs in the future.

Her proposal has earned a fast and so-far positive response. An on-line petition has nearly 500 signatures, and a school board subcommittee asked staff to develop a feasibility study for the plan.

The program would be housed at an under-capacity high school, potentially Heritage High School in Leesburg, and 24 to 30 juniors and seniors would attend every other day for instruction in dance, music, acting and English with a focus on plays and playwriting.

Parents would be responsible for dropping off their children, and a bus would take them to C.S. Monroe Technology School in the afternoon where they can catch buses back to their home schools in time for sports or other after-school activities.

Marco is a skating coach for hockey players, and some of her students have gone on to play professionally. After 21 years of coaching, she said she has seen how pivotal the teenage years are in determining how successful her students become.

“If they train with kids who are as dedicated and as skilled as they are; if they have more opportunities available to them, it really can make or break their futures,” she said.

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.
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