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Testimonials

Testmonials

Sophia Priolo

I am an actor and musical artist who got my start, and first encouragements in the arts largely from my experiences with the Artistic Competition for Exceptional Students. From an early age, I trained as a classical ballet dancer with the Alabama Dance Theatre and danced as a company member in the corps de ballet throughout high school. 

I truly believe, had I not been so encouraged and validated by my ACES experiences and judges, I might not have pursued my musical abilities as early as I did, and with such a clear desire to pursue them as a career path specifically. 

One of my dance teachers saw me in a singing role in a school musical and recommended I seriously consider pursuing voice as a legitimate career path as well as dance. I was unsure about this because, unless I was playing a specific character, singing in front of people was close to my worst nightmare...and I did not believe my voice was anything special. After one voice lesson my new voice teacher recommended I enter the vocal division of the ACES, and I ended up as a finalist, placing 3rd. This gave me confidence and confirmation that perhaps there was something unique about my voice. I continued to enter the ACES all four years of high school, placing 3rd each year in Voice. My senior year, I entered in the Dance and Acting divisions as well, and placed 3rd in all three divisions (I always joke that I basically owned 3rd place at ACES). I eventually went on to study music in college and earned a BA in Vocal Perfomance from the University of Montevallo and sing professionally with Opera Birmingham, Birmingham Music Club and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. In September of this year, I am moving to London to pursue my MA in Music Theatre from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (drama conservatoire of the University of London). I truly believe, had I not been so encouraged and validated by my ACES experiences and judges, I might not have pursued my musical abilities as early as I did, and with such a clear desire to pursue them as a career path specifically. ACES gave me confidence in my abilities from an early age and for that I am very grateful. 

Please feel free to learn more about me through my website: www.SophiaPriolo.com.

Emily Wells Kent

One of my favorite days of the school year always has been DOOT Day. I’ve been attending this event since ninth grade when we all joined in the sidewalk chalk competitions. Back then it was a fun time off from the regular tests and quizzes with a bonus of getting to create for a whole day along with my friends. But as I grew up, it began to mean much more to me.

Although my school has a wonderful art program with great teachers, not many of the students are as “into” art as I am. When we were kids in elementary, art was a requirement once a week for the whole grade. But once it became an option to pick what they wanted, not many people desired to take art- mostly because they felt they had to be “awesome” or “amazing” at it. So I don’t usually get a lot of like minded individuals talking to me about the field that I love. But on DOOT Day, it is different. This day is a time for those of us who care about art and love doing it to join together and just learn something, meet people, and honestly enjoy ourselves.

This day is a time for those of us who care about art and love doing it to join together and just learn something, meet people, and honestly enjoy ourselves.

Throughout the workshops, lectures, sidewalk chalk, and juried competition, I have gained a lot of experience and memories. I learned how to paint with oils (which I was terrified of since that was the only paint I hadn’t used). I was fascinated by the color differentiation in clouds when the instructor held up a white tissue to her images. I drew a pop art corgi, a black swan dancer, a rabbit hole, and other odd pictures on the sidewalk year after year in the hot Alabama sun- sometimes forgetting to wear my sunscreen even though my mom had reminded me. But DOOT not only offers these fun moments, it also gives the opportunity to enter your pieces into a judged show. I believe feedback is extremely important in the creative process and should be used to constantly improve our work.

Now after all fourteen years at the same school and four of those years attending DOOT, I am about to head off into my future. With the tools I’ve been given and the advice that’s been said, I am going to Samford to join their art program. And while I am there, I will use oils for the whole Painting 1 course, draw white still lives in charcoal, do weird projects that push me to think and feel more than I have ever before in art.  I hope to collaborate and communicate with the other students and professors. I aspire to get an internship maybe in a gallery somewhere next summer. But most of all, once I graduate college, I can’t wait to move on to that next phase in life where I get to become an art teacher myself and pass on my passion and fire to the high schoolers or college students like me, on the cusp of figuring out what they want to do with their lives. 

DOOT has helped me get a glimpse of the life that I hope to have-one filled with friends, excitement, and art.

I can’t wait to move on to that next phase in life where I get to become an art teacher myself and pass on my passion and fire to the high schoolers or college students like me, on the cusp of figuring out what they want to do with their lives. 
DOOT has helped me get a glimpse of the life that I hope to have-one filled with friends, excitement, and art.


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