Bella's Visit to The School Of YES! / by Ariana Cook

Last week Bella spent some time at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center with our School of YES! Summer camp. The School of YES! Is a multidisciplinary arts program designed to give students the tools and skills to say YES! to a future of their choice. The goal is use arts programming to teach young people how to become future leaders in their communities. Bella told us that she likes the acronym for the School of YES!- SOY- because in Spanish, the word "soy" means "I am". The SOY students created a theme song for their program, and the title of the song just happens to be "I am". So this fits really well with what SOY is accomplishing! 

SOY is a FREE year-long program, beginning with after-school Fall classes, and again with after-school Spring classes, culminating with a four-week long Summer camp. The students are primarily from Oak Cliff and South Dallas neighborhoods. They study dance, theater, film and photography, puppetry, music and signing, visual art, leadership, and create their own play and perform for the public at the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff. This year's play was about environmental consciousness. The students planted a tree and some drought-tolerant shrubs at the entrance of the Oak Cliff Cultural Center as a gesture of commitment to their community and the Earth. Even though tree-planting is not something artistic, this is a perfect example of how arts programming for students can teach young people to think beyond their limits. 

Watch The Video Here!

What did the students have to say?  

Bella sat down and asked some of the students, "What did you like most about the School of YES! and what are your best memories?" Here's what they had to say:

"The School of YES is very determined and goal oriented. They teach you a lot and it's all geared towards one final performance. The School of YES focuses on so many cultures. A lot of stuff you learn here is stuff that you'll never learn in other camps." - Zaria, age 12

"Being a part of the School of YES makes me feel talented. At another camp I go to, we just sit around and watch T.V. At the School of YES we are ALWAYS moving and doing stuff. I've made new friends here." - Ian, age 11

"I like making all the tree of life projects in art class. Coming to the School of YES makes me feel peepers cheepers! That means happy."- Kendrick, age 8

"The School of YES makes me feel like I'm going to learn something completely new. A lot of things that I learned here are things I won't ever learn at school. I've been to other camps and they aren't like this one. The other camp was more focused on P.E. kind of stuff." - Ethan, age 10

"I like everything about the School of YES. Being here makes me feel happy. I was shyer at the beginning. I've learned how to get along with and play with different people now."- Cruz, age 7

"My favorite thing at the School of YES is the art class because it's fun and you get to create all this cool stuff. My favorite memory so far is making the puppets in art class." - Anely, age 13

"What is cool about the School of YES is that the classes here are so advanced. My favorite memory here is making a short film for our film and photography class. This camp is different from other caps because it's much more centered on learning a lot of things. I want to be a filmmaker when I'm older."- Thomas, age 15

"The School of YES is fun because you can do so much! I learn a lot! Every class makes a new memory for me, so my favorite memory is dance class! I want to be a dancer when I grow up."- Katherina, age 8

"My favorite thing about the School of YES is the people and the fact that I learn so much! The School of YES makes me feel all of the emotions! I love it so much that I don't have words for it. The School of YES has much more things to do than other camps. And it's really long. I like being here all day."- Grace, age 8


Student Leader Program

Student leader, Maya Pearson in front of the tree and flower bed that the students planted at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center

Student leader, Maya Pearson in front of the tree and flower bed that the students planted at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center

Maya is one of the Student Leaders for the School of YES! Summer Camp. Student leaders mentor the younger students, aid the teaching artists and receive a stipend, demonstrating that if they so choose, they can earn a living in the arts. Take a look at the video below that these amazing young people created!

Programming for School of YES! is made possible with the core group of our ensemble teaching artists. They are talented professionals who offer high-quality arts education to students in need. Bella will visit the ensemble soon and share with you all everything about this wonderful group of dedicated artists. So stay tuned for more reports from Bella the Bridge.....