On March 4, Tanisha Cidel sat at her desk while observing her magnet students’ Power Point presentations on theater production. She invited me in to see some of their work. Their presentations were detailed and organized as if they were presenting to a major production studio. I was impressed with the students’ behavior and talent. It was evident that Cidel’s passion and love for what she teaches shined through her students, who last month won the Florida State Thespian Competition—a prestigious theater competition that the Center for Arts at Norland Middle Schoolhas been winning since Sidel was a student in the program herself. Cidel, Linda Draesal- Atkinson and Lyndsey Battiste areformer students of Norland Middle, Draesal is the Visual Arts instructor and Battiste is a volunteer dance instructor, and understood the importance of coming back to the place where they were given the roots to succeed.They along with Zafere White, the music instructor, believe that preserving the legacy of the magnet program is the key to its success.
“We bring a shine of pride,” said Cidel. The award winning magnet program is like no other in the state of Florida, having won countless awards and recognition; the program stresses the importance of developing a scholar first and a performer and artist/performer second. Maribel Trujillo, the lead teacher and dance instructor for the magnet program, explained that the magnet students maintain a competitive level against the district and state reports on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). The students must maintain a “C” average in academics and a “B” average in conduct.
“I’m grooming a whole person not just a dancer,” said Trujillo in reference to the importance of the requirements.
Trujillo credits the school’s principal, Eugene Butler Jr, for some of thesuccess of the magnet program because she says he goes over and beyond to make sure the students have what they need to be proficient artists. Cidel explained how Butler tries to make all of the performances and appearances the students have and how he personally reached out to donors to assist in the magnet program’sannual trip to New York City—a trip taken by the Center for the Arts every year to give students real world experience and exposure to the art world.
The Center for Performing Arts at Norland Middle Schools roots run deep, having been around for over 20 years. They have seen some of the brightest and most talented students to come through their magnet program.Some of Norland Middle School students have gone onto Dr. Michael M. Krop Magnet’s program, Miami Northwestern Senior High School’s PAVAC program, Design Architecture Senior High (DASH), and the prestigious New World School of the Arts.Former students have also gone on to work with the Alvin Alley Dance Company, Nike, Inc. and Final Fantasy, a role playing video game.
Current students have goals and ambitions to continue the greatness their predecessors have set before them and even create their own path to add to the magnet program’s legacy.
Ashley Leon, 13, is an eighth grader at Norland Middle and is a Visual design student. She has won many awards, such as the Fairchild Special Merit award, and has her work displayed across South Florida and even in the Dade County School Board Building.
Eric Quinn, 14, is another eighth grader who is a Theater student.In addition to his involvement with the magnet program he is also in the after school program at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, located in Liberty City. Because of his talents, he was chosen to audition for the new ABC Family network’s sitcom “MC Antenna” and received the co-star role on the show.
Mira Meyers, 13, is a dance student, who has been making all A1A’s since elementary. The eighth grader started dancing at 3 years old and has a love for the Jazz style of dancing. She credits the program with building her self-confidence and giving her a greater appreciation for the art of dancing. In the future, Meyers plans to open her own affordable dance studio for children in the community and even plans to give back to Norland Middle School’s magnet program.
“I would help out with auditions…anything to offer my help. I have learned a lot from this school and I want to show my gratitude towards it,” said Meyers.
For more details on the magnet program, visit DadeSchools.net or call Maribel Trujillo at (305)-653- 1210.