Alumni Stories & News

The Art of Success

Charter Arts is proud to honor all of our alumni. It is exciting to see how the rigorous arts and academic curriculum at Charter Arts translates into our graduates’ future accomplishments.

Graduates of Charter Arts leave our school as mature, responsible and disciplined young men and women.   Whether a graduate continues their education and pursues a career in the arts or outside of the arts, the  infusion of academics and the arts that brought them success in high school continues to influence their lives as professional artists, educators, business leaders, doctors, engineers, scientists, etc.

Our graduates keep us informed about their lives, their milestones and their future goals. We have devoted this special page as a place to highlight alumni stories, so please enjoy!


KRISTINKristin Brooks

Kristin graduated from Charter Arts (LVPA) in 2006, and went off to Berklee College of Music, graduating in 2010 with two degrees in Music Business/Management and Songwriting.  After moving back home to Bethlehem for awhile, she then took the plunge and moved to New York City.  She began working a full-time job all while hustling into the music scene, working on various music gigs, making time for rehearsals and performances.  She eventually landed in a band performing around the city as a featured vocalist.

Then in March 2014, she got her first break.  Through a Berklee alum/friend she landed a part in a choir performing with a new UK artist that was doing his US premiere at Saturday Night Live. That artist happened to be pop singer/songwriter, Sam Smith. She ended up doing a few more dates with him in the same setting for various tv shows, and in June was offered the job to be one in a trio of background singers for his debut concert at the famous The Apollo Theater and has gone on to perform with him nationwide, including the recent AMA’s.  She begins working on Smith’s radio tour, with a full US tour and then will expand to his international tour starting in January 2015.

Since that first SNL break , she has been referred for gigs as a background singer/dancer for rap artist Iggy Azalea, and is currently working with Stevie Wonder, on his “Songs in the Key of Life” tour as a background singer at arenas such as Madison Square Garden(NYC), TD Garden (Boston), Wells Fargo Center (Philly), and MGM Grand Arena (Vegas).


COLLEEN

Colleen is a 2010 Instrumental Music graduate.  She went on to Cornell University to major in Animal Science and graduated  in 2014, Cum Laude with Distinction in Research.  She was a four-time Cornell University undergraduate teaching assistant, a student supervisor and barn manager for the Cornell Raptor Program, and played as a cellist with the Cornell University Registry of Small Ensembles.   Colleen will be attending the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine this fall in pursuit of a VMD and plans to continue to perform research.

colleen alumni pic

Colleen says, “Being able to successfully divide my day between the academics and the arts at Charter Arts (formerly LVPA) enabled me to create a mental and physical balance in my college and graduate life. Attending LVPA empowered me to enter college with confidence and a broadened mind. I was able to immediately relate to and communicate with students of various interests and backgrounds and combine my passions for the arts and sciences into a successful college experience. Not only did I draw on the personal attention and premiere education I received in my academic classes at LVPA, but I also maintained the passion I have for the arts by seeking out and working with colleagues from various artistic fields. Now as I enter graduate school, I am assured that my experiences at LVPA will continue to positively influence my life.”


CHRISTOPHER

Christopher , Class of 2007, is a member of the first graduating class that spent all four years, 9-12, at Charter Arts (LVPA), since the school opened in 2003.   Christopher then went on to attend Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he focused his studies on pre-med, all while honing his skills and talents in theater and the Japanese language. Over the last few years, Christopher has spent time studying in the rainforests of Australia and New Zealand and he has pursued studies in Shakespearean Theater at the University of Houston’s Master of Fine Arts Department. He continues to give back to Charter Arts, teaching Suzuki training classes and stage combat to current students. With aspirations to attend medical school, Christopher currently works as an emergency medical technician in the Lehigh Valley.

JESSICA

“Zach” by Jessica Bastidas

Jessica is a 2012 Visual Art graduate.  She is currently entering her junior year at the Maryland Institute College of Art and Design in Baltimore, MD. She is a triple major in Illustration, Humanistic Studies, and the Masters in Art and Teaching program at MICA. Over the years, her work has been shown at Banana Factory, The BAUM School of Art, The Allentown Art Museum, Timezones Gallery, Euro Yogurt, Terra Café, Arts in the Park, The Ignite Show, and others. Jessica has been awarded twelve Golden Keys and four silver keys for the Scholastic Art Awards on the Regional Level, two Silver Keys and an American Visions Award on the National Level, and her work for the AP Portfolio has toured nationally.  She was a finalist in the Illustrators of the Future Contest and winner of the Gates Millennium Scholarship Award as well as the winner of numerous calendar and poster contests. Additionally, she has been featured in Honors Student Magazine (2010) and Bethlehem Patch’s Whiz Kid.

“Zach” by Jessica Bastidas


JAMES

JamesJames is a proud 2007  Theatre graduate. He then went on to pursue an MFA in Acting  at the Yale School of Drama. While growing up in the Lehigh Valley, James was extensively involved with Civic Theatre, Touchstone Theatre and Muhlenberg College’s Theatre and Dance program. While at Charter Arts, James was a founding member of Second Stage, the school’s student run theatre company. His regional acting credits include: Sidewalk Art, Williamstown Theatre Festival. New York credits include: Columbia University, Metropolitan Opera. He was the recipient of the Pennsylvania Award for the Creative Achievement in the Arts. Other training credits include the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, the Apprentice Program at Williamstown Theatre Festival, and a BA in Theatre Performance from Marymount Manhattan College.

 


EMILY

EmilyEMILY is a 2010  graduate of the Theatre Department. After graduating she toured with the National Broadway Tour of Spring Awakening as Thea. She then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Film/TV/Music. She will appear in a Paramount Studios picture releasing in 2013 titled “A Malibu Horror Story.” At Charter Arts she appeared in Little Women as Jo, Hunger as Caroline, and Threepenny Opera as Molly. She toured at the age of 11 with the National Broadway Tour of Oliver! Then performed in the Off-Broadway American Girl’s Revue as Molly. She sang at President Barack Obama’s PA Inaugural Ball and as a halftime soloist at Madison Square Garden. Look out for some new Singer/Songwriter style songs from Emily in 2013!


ADAM

Adam is a 2007 Vocal Music graduate.  This Nazareth native is an accomplished American Tenor.  Adam continued his studies at Mannes College- the New School for Music in New York City, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance and Opera, and then his Master of Music degree.

His professional singing career has taken him from coast to coast, and his performance resume is impressive. To name a few of his credits: Adam appeared at Carnegie Hall in the Weill Recital Hall debut with The Mannes College of Music Lizst Festival.  He was the Tenor Soloist in Handel’s Messiah with Mark Shaprio and The St. Cecilia Chorus, Carnegie Hall Debut. He appeared in a concert at SongFest at Pepperdine in Malibu, CA with pianist Martin Katz in summer 2011. In May 2011 he was seen as Bardolfo in Verdi’s Falstaff with the Mannes Opera and Orchestra under Maestro Jospeh Colaneri. Also with the Mannes Opera, Adam has appeared in numerous piano and orchestral scenes programs including Act III of La Boheme as Rodolfo and Act I of Robert Ward’s The Crucible as Giles Corey. He performed the role of Arturo in Chautauqua Opera’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor.

Adam’s awards and scholarships include: Encouragement Grant from The Opera Index Competition, September 2011, The Michael Sisca Opera Award upon graduation, May 2011,  finalist in The Gulio Gari Competition, May 2011,  grant winner from the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation Vocal Competition (2012), third place winner in the Giulio Gari Foundation Vocal Competition (2012) and the fourth prize winner of Opera Index Competition.


RACHEL

Rachel was a 2009 graduate, where she majored in Figure Skating.  She heavily focused her training in ice dancing and show skating.  She had the privilege of auditioning with prospective ice dance partners trained by prestigious world and Olympic coaches such as Robbie Kaine and Igor Shpilband.

Upon graduating from Charter Arts (formerly LVPA), Rachel decided to give up her competitive skating status and turn professional.  Her first professional contract began two days after leaving Charter Arts.  As a professional figure skater, Rachel has performed in shows for Woodstock Ice Productions at Doroney Park, Rand Family Productions, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center in Atlanta, and Advanced Entertainment Group at Sea World in Orlando, Florida.

With education being a very significant aspect of Rachel’s life, she graduated Charter Arts with a scholarship to Moravian College, where she is currently a junior studying English and Writing.  She hopes to have a career as a writer, whether writing novels or screenplays.   When she graduates Moravian, she plans to continue her professional skating career while touring in the US and internationally.

Rachel acknowledges Charter Arts as a vital stepping stone in her life; where she was able to gain opportunities she would not have otherwise, and where she worked with instructors who had a strong hand in providing her the essentials and aid to help reach her goals.


MATT

Matt, Class of 2013, is an accomplished ventriloquist who has had training with some of the most famous acts in the business, including:   Las Vegas headliner-Terry Fator, Jeff Dunham and Todd Oliver.  Last year Matt began producing and hosting an online talk show for ventriloquists called Ventriloquism Weekly.  Through the show, he has interviewed Fator and Tony Award winner  Jay Johnson, among others.  The show has taken Matt across the country to appear as a host for various events.

www.ventriloquismweekly.com.

Since graduating as a theatre major from The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Matt moved to New York City to attend Pace University, where he is pursuing a BA in Film and Screen Studies.

While at Pace, he obtained a residency at the Broadway Comedy Club in Manhattan, operating his full magic and ventriloquism show for sold-out audiences in Times Square.


KATIE

Katie is a 2009 graduate, who majored in Dance at Charter Arts (formerly LVPA).  She has since graduated cum laude from West Chester University where she received her B.S. in Exercise Science/ Pre-Occupational therapy with a minor in dance.  She was involved with the University Dance Company and attended the American College Dance Festival.  She currently works locally as a dance and Zumba instructor. She is continuing her education at Alvernia University where she is working on her M.S. in Occupational Therapy. She was happily married in May of 2013 and still maintains contact with several good friends she made during her time at LVPA.

Katie says, “Charter Arts steered me on the right path. I have learned in my classes at college that a child is more likely to be successful if they are supported and have a strong passion. Charter Arts helps kids develop their passion for the arts. The school helped me to develop good friends and helped me prepare for the future.”


OCTAVIA

Octavia is a 2010 Visual Art graduate of Charter Arts. She is currently attending Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, PA. She loves the college. She loves the feel of a smaller school, and enjoys the diverse student body. She has met many international students who have become great friends.

Octavia is majoring in biology and says, “Because I am a visual learner, I feel that my visual art training at Charter Arts  helped me appreciate illustrations, which is so helpful in biology, because pictures are used to illustrate many concepts. I have an advantage.”


DIOMI

Diomi graduated from Charter Arts in 2010. He went on to earn an Associates degree from The Institute of Audio Research in NYC in November 2011. Diomi finished his casework in just eighteen months, and he will continue his education at the City College of New York studying Journalism. Everyone who knows “D” knows that he is focused on attaining professional success as a R&B singer. Diomi is working everyday to ensure that his dreams are realized.

In addition to working on his music and education every day, Diomi works as a dispatcher on Wall Street at night, and also works with his aunt as a volunteer with incarcerated women to help them gain confidence and skills necessary to achieve their goals.

Diomi loves Manhattan. His education and ambition has put him in front of record labels such as; Def Jam, Interscope, Universal, Warner Music Group and Young Money/Cash Money. Diomi is busy performing original songs throughout New York City and he is working on plans to tour in Australia this spring.

 

“You have to prove yourself to a record label. As a Hispanic vocalist I have a unique opportunity to bridge the R&B industry”.


ARTURO

Arturo front page

Arturo began working for renowned artist Jeff Koons in New York City earlier this summer.  Koons rose to prominence in the eighties and is revered as one of the most important artists of our time.  Cabrera works in the evenings and is responsible for mixing the paints that will later be used for Koons’ paintings.

In the two years since graduating from The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Cabrera has developed an impressive career as an artist. Immediately after graduation, he was a resident artist at the Banana Factory where he had his private studio for one year—certainly a rare and impressive feat for a teenage artist. He participated in many solo and group shows in the region, including a solo show at Home & Planet in Bethlehem.

While a student at Charter Arts, Cabrera earned a variety of prestigious awards:  In 2010 and 2012 he received the President’s Education Award, in recognition of outstanding academic excellence; in 2012 he earned Ten Gold Key awards at the Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and 2 Gold and 2 Silver Medals at the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards–for which his work was exhibited at Carnegie Hall.

“A proper high school education in the arts has influenced my life for the better,” says Cabrera.  “It gave me the courage to follow my dreams and to make a difference in this world.  My teachers taught me to be disciplined, courageous, and to work hard.  Having this education gives me a sense of purpose in this world.  It is something no one can take away from me. It provides me everything.”

Arturo adds, “The reason I work for Jeff Koons is because of my portfolio; and The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts gave me the time to focus on my craft and build my portfolio to where it is today. This high school has really changed my life.”

Currently Arturo is represented locally by the Bethlehem House Contemporary Art Gallery.  He will show his next collection at the gallery in 2015. “Right now I am getting ready to start my new collection, ‘Pop Humanism’”, says Arturo.  “This body of work will focus on how humanity interacts with itself and is influenced by pop culture.”

He will also exhibit in a members group show at the Hunterdon Art Museum in New Jersey this September and he won an opportunity for a solo show at the Hunterdon Art Museum in 2015.  Arturo is networking with Gallery Orange in New Orleans and plans on having representation with them soon. He also began assisting Eric Jones, an artist based in Brooklyn this month.


 AMANDA

Amanda is a 2010 graduate of Charter Arts.  She recently made her professional acting debut in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF as “Grandma Tzeitel” and a member of the ensemble.  She is now a proud Actors’ Equity Membership Candidate!  At Charter Arts, Amanda was a Vocal Music major and performed as “The Witch” in INTO THE WOODS and as “Tom” in ANN AND SEAMUS.  Amanda recently graduated from DeSales University as a Musical Theatre Major.  She appeared in the University productions of THE MUSIC MAN and THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ.  Amanda_Headshot_final_2014


Originally from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, Amanda is anxious to pursue her career in New York City and Philadelphia.  She feels that Charter Arts gave her the confidence to not only pursue her craft, but to own it and enjoy each step toward a professional performance career.