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Academy for the Arts starts camp season

By Staff | Jun 16, 2015

The air was filled with the sounds of violin bows gliding across the strings and steel drums banging.

The North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts, having just finished its school year on June 5, picked up where it left off the following Monday as it kicked off its three-week summer camp.

Dr. Doug Santini, principal at NFMAA, started the camp last year to give Lee County kids a place to hone their musical and acting skills or perhaps learn a new skill.

“Since we’re one of the premiere arts schools in the area, we need to do this. We have the facilities. Why not use them in the summer?” Santini said.

More than 100 youths will participate this year, about the same as last year, paying $105 for each one-week camp and $325 for the three-week drama camp.

“We added the woodwind and the brass this year and may go to more visual arts next year, but I want to watch what I add. I don’t want to spread this too thin,” Santini said.

The first week as the camp, which was also the busiest, featured beginner violin, acoustic guitar, woodwind camp, steel drums and drama camp.

This week features advanced steel drums and violins, while next week will feature brass.

Perhaps the most work was done in drama camp, the only camp that goes the entire three weeks and climaxes with two performances of High School Musical Junior, based on the immensely popular Disney production.

Auditions were held Monday, with rehearsals going on for six hours a day until June 25, when the first of three shows for the families and other campers throughout Lee County will be held in the auditorium.

The shows will be Thursday, June 25, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. and Friday, June 25, at 7 p.m.

Monday was spent touring the grounds, learning basic theater lingo, and doing the first read and sing-through of the production, sitting in a circle and reading the lines one at a time.

Amy Massari, drama instructor for the camp, said the participants have loved working on the play.

“They are having a blast. You could see the theater lovers and we’re having a great time and learning new things,” Massari said. “Half the kids are from this school, with the others coming from other schools in Lee County.”

Nearby, 16 younger students were in the music room learning the play the violin with the help of Mitsue Schmidt, violin instructor.

“They’ve been doing real well thanks to our student helpers. Half the students from here have played. Those who are from other schools never played the violin,” Schmidt said.

The students learned basic scales and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” along with 10 other basic songs. The students played a concert at the end of the week to show what they learned.

“They’re here for six hours, but they do so much the time goes fast,” Schimdt said.