Harrison School for the Arts
Ensuring Professional Results
BY LAVERNE STEVENS
As one enters the vestibule of the administration offices of Harrison School for the Arts, written along the wall a quote is seen: “The arts are the fundamental resources through which the world is viewed, meaning is created, and the mind developed,” spoken by Dr. Elliot Eisner, emeritus professor of Art and Education at Stanford University.
Harrison School for the Arts is fortunate to have Dr. Craig Collins as principal for twelve years. Dr. Collins comes with the above quote, as a philosophy he gained when he completed doctoral studies.
Lois Cowles Harrison, an avid arts activist, led the drive for legislative and School Board funding for construction of Polk Museum of Art and Harrison School for the Arts. She served as a member of Florida Arts Council from 1972-1980. She also served as president and member of the Board of Governors of Polk Museum of Art and served on the Board of Directors of Florida Endowment of the Humanities. “Lois Cowles Harrison continues to be an icon for her untiring support of the arts,” said Dr. Collins.
Enrollment at Harrison is 475 students in grades 9 thru 12. The facilities allow for an increase in enrollment. Students submit an application to compete in a rigorous merit-based audition process. Students must also complete a resume depicting their accomplishments, interests, and work ethic. Students may audition for two departments.
Departments include educational majors in Dance, Guitar, Jazz, Motion Picture Arts, Musical Theater, Orchestra, Piano, Theater, Technical Theater, Visual Arts, and Vocal Music. The Creative Writing Program still remains unfunded. Professionalism is foremost in the Harrison programs. Students are given the opportunity to work side by side with guest artists, who share their experience and talents while performing. Guest artists come from the county, state and nation. In December, Professor Emeritus Gary Langford, from the University of Florida, performed with the Harrison Jazz Orchestra at the Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Dr. Larry Thompson, President of Ringling College of Art and Design, will deliver the commencement address this year. World-renowned Paloma Herrera, principal ballet dancer with American Ballet Theatre, and other American Ballet Theatre personnel performed in the Nutcracker at Harrison. Partnering with Florida Southern College, Polk Museum of Art, and Southeastern University, offers Harrison students access to high-quality arts experiences. This past fall, Harrison contracted with Flying by Foy from New York City to teach students the aereography required in the performance of Peter Pan. “It was an incredible opportunity, both for our actors and our technical theatre students. Not only did the students learn the appropriate processes, but they learned from the company responsible for teaching the aereography in Broadway’s four versions of Peter Pan,” said Dr. Collins.
Faculty, staff, parents, students, and community advocates partner together ensuring professional results. “The Harrison community is fantastic. We all work together to provide a nurturing support system credited to fostering creativity for a lifetime;” said Dr. Collins, “both for students pursuing an arts career and students seeking non-arts related careers.” Graduates have attended Harvard, The Julliard School, The Cooper Union, Eastman School of Music, Southern Methodist University, New York University, Manhattan School of Music, DePaul University, Ringling College of Art and Design, and Princeton. Harrison alumni have advanced to star in major Broadway productions, feature on network television programs, pursue roles in professional dance companies, and many are practicing artists. Upon graduation, graduates are expected to play an integral part in supporting the arts in the communities in which they serve.
Harrison School for the Arts is located at 750 Hollingsworth Road, Lakeland, Florida 33801. For more information, call 863- 499-2855 or visit www.harrisonarts.com.