The two charter schools occupying the Austin High School campus at 231 N. Pine may operate independently, but last Thursday their students shared a stage to show off their many talents.
The campus hosted “An Evening With The Stars,” a talent show featuring students of the Austin Polytechnical Academy (APA), which opened in September, and the Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy (ABEA), which opened in 2006.
“The event served sort of a dual purpose,” said Gwyn Kram, a physical education teacher for APA, and a coordinator for the city’s After School Matters youth program.
“We wanted to spotlight the types of after school activities the students from both schools have been taking part in this semester, and serve as our December showcase of the After School Matters program,” she added.
The event was divided into two parts, each an hour long.
Part one took place in the campus’ large auditorium, and was emceed by APA freshman Darius Anderson.
Although it began at 6 in the evening, during one of the more frigid evenings of the month, the auditorium was filled with dozens of parents, students and teachers.
APA students in the Dynasty Dance Troupe performed Salsa and Afro Caribbean dance routines, sometimes dancing together in step or individually.
“I didn’t feel nervous at all because I’ve danced in front of a crowd when I was in sixth grade,” said Sade Armstrong, an APA freshman. “When I was told about the show, I wanted to perform. It was simply a matter of doing the routine I had been practicing for three months.”
“There is a lot of hip movement in Salsa, and I felt really at home doing it,” Armstrong said, adding that she wants to pursue Salsa dance in college as well.
Along with dance, the APA students involved with martial arts through After School Matters performed Hapkido routines, using bows, and forearm blocks.
“I wanted to take martial arts because I felt it was good to know how to defend myself if I needed to,” said APA freshman Ernest Laster, a three-month Hapkido student, who plans to study computer engineering in college.
“The toughest part was when we had to grab the wrist of the person coming at us, twist their wrist back and force them to the ground without harming them. It takes a lot of practice but I think I did well,” he said.
The students were followed by a special performance by members of Jang’s Martial Arts, located on 6354 W. Grand.
The school teaches the “defensive martial art” to pre-teens and teens.
The performers, including Master Mi Jung Jang, demonstrated the art of falling without hurting oneself, using nun-chucks, and split wooden boards while leaping over two crouching individuals.
In the second half of the show, the ABEA students converged in the cafeteria for refreshments and displayed their art projects, such as bird houses and miniature green houses.
ABEA students were excited to meet with their families and show the artwork they had produced.