The community is invited to the Milwaukie Academy of the Arts open house on Nov. 14, to be informed and entertained, said Tim Taylor, director of the academy and assistant principal at Milwaukie High School.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Senior Carlie Hughes selects two of her works, 'The Grand Journey' and 'Sage,' to hang in the J.C. Lillie Center for the Arts at Milwaukie High School.Creativity will be everywhere inside the J.C. Lillie Center for the Arts at MHS, including on the walls of the lobby and inside the theater, starting at 4 p.m.

In addition to paintings, drawings and sculpture, visitors “will see our kids on stage singing and dancing, in the pit performing music, selling tickets and ushering, and doing all the lights and sound for ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie,’ ” Taylor said.

The fall musical is a collaboration among Scott Walker, director and theater arts instructor, Greg Van Winkle, instrumental music instructor, and Emily Gimba, the choir and vocal music instructor. It opens at 7 p.m. the night of the open house, and continues through Nov. 17.

School within a school

The Milwaukie Academy of the Arts is a free, public, arts-based, college-prep charter school, housed within Milwaukie High School, and open to students anywhere in the state, Taylor said, adding, “It was founded in 2005 and designed to sustain a high-quality arts presence on this campus.”

MAA is embedded within the high school, allowing students access to “a wide and deep variety of electives and honors courses. MAA students take their core courses as a cohort together, and then take other required classes with MHS,” Taylor said.

Students have access to all clubs and Oregon School Activities Association-sanctioned sports teams and activities within MHS, and can get college credits from Clackamas Community College for a wide range of courses. They also can take classes at the Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center on Johnson Road in Milwaukie.

Entrance to MAA is through an application process and only 100 students per grade level are accepted; siblings of current MAA students and in-district students get first preference in enrollment, Taylor said.

There is an essay component to the application, so that students “know they are applying to come to an arts school, and to see if they are a good fit for us and if we are a good fit for them,” he said.

Typically, 60 percent of the MAA students are from within the North Clackamas School District, while 40 percent come from outside the district, including students from Portland, Estacada, Oregon City, Canby and West Linn, among other places.

Students in the academy have been awarded in excess of $400,000 in college scholarships and MAA is rated outstanding on the State of Oregon School Report Card.

Amazing things’

The open house on Nov. 14 will give community members the opportunity to learn about “the high-quality education experience here, and they can see the amazing things our students can do, so they can feel good about the investment in the future,” Taylor said.

The money from a bond measure in 2006 allowed for a remodel of the J.C. Lillie Center for the Arts, including spaces for theater, visual arts, dance and more, he said.

A week before the open house, visual art instructor Lori Moe-Burgener asked Carlie Hughes, a senior, to begin hanging her artwork on the walls of the lobby. Hughes has been in MAA all four years, and hopes to attend Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland on a scholarship; she ultimately would like to be a graphic


What she likes best about the academy is “the creativity and intellectual stimulus,” she said, adding that the students interact like a family.

Although the curriculum is “difficult and demanding,” she found it less scary to jump into, partly because staff members are so welcoming.

Another positive aspect of MAA is that the instructors are “focused on getting you ready for your career, even if it is not in art.”

Taylor noted that applications for admission to MAA will be available at the open house. He doesn’t know if the advent of light rail may lead to more students applying to the academy, but he does know one thing, Milwaukie MAX will make it easier for MAA students to take field trips to Portland, to take advantage of, among other things, “a partnership with Artists Repertory Theatre in Portland, where our students get to tour the facility, see a play and talk to the actors.”

Feast your eyes

What: The Milwaukie Academy of the Arts open house

When: 4 p.m.Thursday, Nov. 14

Where: The J.C. Lillie Center for the Arts, 11300 S.E. 23rd Ave., Milwaukie, on the Milwaukie High School campus

More: The community is welcome to come for the art exhibit and stay for the 7 p.m. opening performance of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” in the theater at the J.C. Lillie Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. The musical also plays at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17.

Contact: For more information about the open house or the musical, call 503-353-5830.

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