LPAC: Teaching the Arts to Local Children

“Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” never sounded so sweet.
Music, drama, and dance lessons are a luxury well beyond the budgets of many families. However, actualizing the Lawrenceville School Performing Arts Department credo that everyone is an artist, Lawrenceville’s annual Performing Arts Camp (LPAC) brings the arts to local, underserved kids at no charge. LPAC 2018 was held in the Clark Music Center from July 9-20.
All of the campers were Lawrence Township kids, ages 7-12, who qualify for the state’s free or reduced lunch program. This year, nearly 100 youngsters attended LPAC for one or both of the week-long sessions. They chose from instrumental or vocal music, dance, or acting lessons. Lawrenceville provided everything, from transportation to guitars to meals. Around two dozen current Lawrentians served as counselors, giving lessons and leading campers through daily activities in addition to lessons, including arts and crafts, games, and movies.
Each session concluded with a concert for the campers’ families. Exuberant dances, a soulful singing of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September,” and a young pianist’s tentative rendition of “Twinkle” brought applause and more than a few happy tears.
Rising Fifth Formers Linda Li and Andrew Ni were LPACs’ co-Head Counselors this year. This was Li’s third as a counselor and Ni’s second.
Li said the best part of LPAC is the chance to build relationships with the campers. Some of the counselors, including Li, have been able offer music lessons to the LPAC students during the regular School year. “You can really bond with them,” she said. “A lot of them come to other School events [including] the Halloween Party and Springfest, so we maintain those relationships.”
No one expects the campers to become virtuosos in a week or two. “They get to come here and be artists. That’s not an opportunity that’s always open to them [at their schools],” said Ni. “We want them to become more creative. It’s not easy to create a product, but we want to encourage them to see what could happen if they were to harness their creativity,” he said.
Ni explained that Lawrenceville is “very good at giving opportunities for student to perform and show their talent,” citing the School’s Allegro Shows and Midday Music concerts as examples. “I feel like music at Lawrenceville is highly student-driven and I think that’s a really good thing. We can come together and [create] things like [LPAC] without the push of teachers. We can do these ourselves,” he said. “I’m very proud of this camp. . . . It is a privilege for us to be working with these kids.”
For additional information, please contact Lisa M. Gillard Hanson, director of Public Relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.

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