Inside an Artists' Colony 1

The Valor Center at Valor Christian High School Takes Arts Education to a Whole New Level

John Updike famously said that art offers a space for the spirit. If that’s true, then what the Valor Center at Valor Christian High School offers young artists is a universe.

You’d expect a high school to be quiet in July, but that wasn’t the case when yours truly got the deluxe tour of the one-year-old, 100,000-square-foot Valor Center from Arts & Media Director Arie Ringnalda. Where you might expect to see empty spaces was a campus abuzz with summer arts-camp middle schoolers and high schoolers working on special projects — students with passion for their respective crafts, to be sure. As a one-time graduate student in the arts, this author’s mouth was agape as we traveled from the high-tech dance studios, fully equipped with instant-replay technology and a 750-seat performance hall complete with large scene shop and motorized orchestra pit, to world-class recording studios and the Center’s own bistro where students can collaborate in comfort. And that was just the beginning.

The living habitat — no, ecosystem — where young artists learn, experiment, practice and grow in their respective disciplines was launched eight years ago but moved into the new $35M privately-funded center just under a year ago. Ringnalda calls the center a mix of performing arts and high-level arts education facility with a state-of-the-art performance hall. “To my knowledge, there’s nothing like this anywhere,” says Ringnalda of the center.

Programs of study include (alphabetically) Animation, Dance, Design, Film, Music, Photography, Studio Arts and Theater. “All taught from a Christian perspective,” said Ringnalda. “We’re directing kids toward making a positive impact,” he said, citing as example the CALOS student film festival held each year. “CALOS is Greek for noble,” said Ringnalda, who explained that while they focus their creative endeavors on positive themes, they also tackle more challenging topics that they can process together.

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“At the end of the day, it’s about providing the best preparation we can give for college and career,” says Ringnalda. They leave here with a strong portfolio or reel, depending on their track.”

Opportunity and exposure abound, to be sure. The center attracts renowned audition judges from the likes of TV’s “The Voice” and brings students around the country and abroad for immersion into their respective fields, leading many students to burst onto the national scene before they’ve even started college.

“Students are already making industry connections in high school,” says Ringnalda, citing Valor alum and renowned musician Meagan Thwaites who’s now working with a top producer she met at the HeavenFest music festival while she was still a student. “Last year we were in Nashville and met Rascal Flats and Amy Grant, among others,” says Ringnalda. “The students get to meet and rub shoulders with artists who are at the top of their fields.” Add this kind of exposure to Valor’s world-class arts education facilities, and students have a golden opportunity for success. “We have this amazing facility, built with the programs in mind, at a very professional level to give kids a professional experience.”