FSPA Meets the Challenges of Fall 2020
The Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA) is open for the 2020-2021 season and continues to welcome new students in the school’s departments of Music, Dance, and Drama. Founder and Director Raye Lynn Mercer comments on the school’s 36th season, “This is certainly a most unusual fall opening, but we are successfully underway! It’s great to have activity, music, and happy students back in the building.” The school is following the Mass.gov/Reopening Massachusetts guidelines and continues to update procedures and practices as updates become available.
Prospective students are invited to come in person for a tour and to discuss program options. All FSPA programs are being taught in person or in a hybrid format, while some students may elect to take all classes virtually. Mercer remarks, “Understanding that many families are grappling with the difficulties of settling into school this fall, we are “ready when you are” with enrollment at FSPA ongoing throughout the year.”
Masks are required at all times at FSPA. Faculty and students have become accustomed to dancing, acting, and singing while socially distanced and in masks. “Safety is our top priority,” notes Mercer. “We are infusing fun and the joy of the arts into our disciplined environment. Our students are enjoying their classes and have accepted the challenges of the times with respect and a wonderfully positive collective attitude.”
FSPA sophomore Audrey Miningham of Mendon exclaims, “Despite everything that’s going on, FSPA has done an incredible job making sure that all of us are having fun while still being cautious and safe. I think it’s pretty amazing that they found a way to bring the arts back and for us to be together again doing what we love.”
Classes, all with limited enrollment, are being conducted creatively in order to keep students distanced. The school has installed air filters and purifiers and is operating classrooms with windows and doors open as weather allows. Enhanced cleaning practices include daily cleaning and repeated sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces throughout the day. Private lessons have been moved to larger studios, THE BLACK BOX is being used for some group classes, and studios are equipped with tablets and tripods for livestreaming classes home to students working virtually. Dressing rooms are currently closed, and parents and siblings are asked not to wait in the building, keeping numbers of people in the building at a minimum.
According to FSPA Voice Instructor Heidi Iuliano, “The joy the students express to be able to make music in person is so wonderful to see. We’re thrilled to be teaching safely at FSPA. The staff and students need this consistently positive outlet!”
FSPA parent John Verre of Quincy shares, “As former public school professionals ourselves, expanding our son’s involvement in voice, acting, and dance at FSPA and enrolling him in FSPA Academy represented a radical change for my wife and me. With the school’s careful re-opening planning and implementation, we are pleased that he is so happy to be there, guided in his academic and theater-related learning by such capable and committed staff, and engaged with classmates and upper-class students who share his passion for musical theater.”
Performance opportunities are a hallmark of the FSPA experience. THE BLACK BOX, home of the Franklin Performing Arts Company (FPAC) and located behind FSPA, is operating an outdoor stage into the fall and under current guidelines for indoor venues, virtual performances and livestream formats are being contemplated. Mercer stresses that students can look forward to performing during the school year.
The FSPA office is open Monday - Saturday. Drop in visits can be accommodated or an appointment can be made for a tour and a discussion of program options for new students. For more information about FSPA and its programs, visit www.FSPAonline.com, call (508) 528-8668, or stop by 38 Main St. in Franklin. Follow FSPA on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.