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AAW Students Express Themselves – The Sequel

Are you curious about what it’s like to attend an arts integrated high school?

If you didn’t get a chance to check out our post two weeks ago that highlighted what students say about AAW, then you’ll want to read this.

(Of course, it’s not too late to read the post from two weeks ago too. It’s right here.)

Because it can really help to hear AAW students express themselves about the way the arts have formed and even changed their lives.

AAW Students Express Themselves Freely and without Fear

That’s one of the coolest things about attending an arts integrated high school. The arts are all about expressing yourself.

So where you may feel stifled, bullied and/or misunderstood in a traditional school, an arts integrated school celebrates your inner “weirdo.” And it gives you permission to let it all out.

In fact, you’re encouraged to do so. And you’ll have plenty of support along the way.

Young Artists Help Others Take Their First Step

Conlan Lang is one of those supporters. As a senior at AAW, he knows firsthand that life as an artist isn’t always easy. So he and a group of other students are setting out to help fellow students get the exposure they need:

As an artist, it is tough not only building up the confidence, but knowing where to start when taking your first step in your career and get recognized. However, a small group of us at Arts Academy in the Woods are trying to help our peers accomplish just that.

A video web-series is in the works called “Arts in the Woods” (AIW). The project, spearheaded by Truman Hudson III (creator of the wrestling podcast Ring of Discussions TV), is meant to spread word of the artists around the school and showcase their works/accomplishments in hopes of giving them an audience. The objective of the project is to start and/or boost the careers of these talented individuals without profit.

The first few artists that we hope to present are also part of the early production team. They include, but are not limited to, Eldric Parks (a talented rap artist who goes by the title Nacre Son), Odin Koprin (a talented slam poet who interjects comedy into an otherwise bland reality), and myself, Conlan Lang (a multi-instrumentalist and composer).

As for some of the works that will be showcased, I can really only talk about my own here, as I’m not sure what the others are working on. However, being a multi-instrumentalist who’s fluent in five instruments and partially fluent in several others, I am working on composing several pieces for an album I’m calling “Reflections.” 

I want the original pieces on the album to reflect upon my journey through music so far, and what I have loved to play and listen to in the areas of Jazz, R&B, Indie, Neo-Soul, and other genres not often in the spotlight. I also plan to put on the album cover songs that have made a great impact in my life as a musician.

My goal is to finish this project by the end of the academic year for my senior project, to use it in my college portfolio and to eventually take out into the world as my first step toward becoming an accomplished musician.

The first track I have been writing for the album so far is a reflection on my personal emotional growth. My attitude towards things in general and how quickly or easily I accept reality has set in over the past few years and I wanted to highlight that in this song. I gave it an upbeat funk feel, and added my own personal twist to the sound.

The style choice was a result of my noticing that a lot of funk tunes are rather bluesy in story, with the narrator suffering some deal of emotional pain. Typically the song would be about them shrugging it off and moving on, as they feel fine again. Over the summer of 2018, something like that had happened to me. So I started writing the rhythm section groove that now exists for the piece and I have taken to calling it “Blondie.”

To conclude, I am not the only artist doing great things like this. There are many others working right alongside Truman to get AIW off the ground as quickly as possible so we can start highlighting the great work being done by these artists. Keep an eye out, and keep an ear open, as you may be hearing about new artists fairly soon!

At an arts integrated high school, students share their passions without fear of being judged or marginalized. Instead, they are encouraged to keep exploring. Believing in yourself is much easier when others believe in you too.

My First Love

There are so many unique ways to express oneself. And thinking outside the box is the cornerstone of creative endeavors. So when Mikayla Ashford Collins was asked to write about what it was like to be at an arts integrated high school, she decided to take a different approach with her response. The result is very moving:

He was my first love, surpassing all things cliché yet maintaining the desire amongst the hearts of both girls and boys. My first love was a taunting individual who challenged those daring enough to be manipulated by his influence, as if he had an innate yet modest sense of being above the degree of those easily swayed by the ways of a trend. Not so much a rebel, more of an individual encouraging rebellion, never allowing me to forget the voice I had. You’d think he was living proof of the ‘Law of attraction’, given that he lingered in the back of my mind and the front of my heart, therefore manifesting himself everywhere I went. In 8th grade, I publicly made my move, declaring my indubitable affection, which he returned and together we started our courtship rituals. Never was he faithful to me, only completely indiscriminate to those willing to listen to him, but no matter how his promiscuity shone through, he was never disingenuous with his words to me.

In high school we managed to meet again under extreme circumstances of anxiety, in which I had been weakened. A demanding, robust voice of pride deteriorated down to a confused, lost whimper. I was lost, but his voice globally positioned me to my own will, strength courage. Who could have known that it would take me four years to accomplish what those wait maybe a little of 10 years to understand? Him.

I melt at the sound of his name.

My first love is called Music.

By humanizing music, Mikayla’s piece gives us an intimate view of how life changing it has been for her. Not being forced to stay within some set confines of a writing assignment, she delivered a powerful piece that expresses something deep and meaningful. And the draw of passion is something to which most artists can relate.

Can You Relate?

It’s clear that AAW students express themselves in an environment that supports and nurtures creative thinkers. Do you have that sort of freedom?

If school hasn’t really been your “thing” up to this point, then you should see what an arts integrated high school has to offer. Give it a try. Contact us to set up a time when you can shadow a student for a day.

And get ready to set yourself free.


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