Arts & Entertainment Editor
The Summer Honors Institutes, a week-long academic program for rising high school seniors, ran from July 9-14. There were 13 different institutes offered by the School of Health Professions and Nursing, and the colleges of Management, Arts, Communications and Design and Liberal Arts and Sciences. “The wonderful brainchild of President Cline is an initiative to bring the best and most talented students to LIU Post in order to introduce them to the stellar programs we have here,” Cara Gargano, chairperson of the Department of Theater, Dance & Arts Management, said. There were 386 attendees this year combined from all of the various programs, including dance, musical theatre, digital game design and creative writing. The high school participants were recommended by their schools to participate in the Institutes on full scholarships.
The Institutes brought many students to campus to participate in programs of their interest. Gargano described the intensive performance-based programs. “We started every day with company warm-ups and then go into classes and rehearsals with breaks for lunch and dinner.” Theater and dance faculty members were on campus for the entire week, she said. “The faculty and staff are here 24/7 holding rehearsals and classes, teaching music and choreography, staging all the numbers, making costumes, hanging and focusing the lights, and preparing the sound.” Auditions for both the musical theatre and dance programs took place across 14 states, and video applications were also submitted. “In the five years we have been doing this program, many of these folks have been invited to apply to our department. It is a pleasure to work with all of them!” Gargano said.
“This year the theme of the creative writing Summer Honors Institute was ‘Writing Outside the Lines,’” Dr. Joan Digby, professor of English, said. The overall goal of this program was to broaden participants’ concept of creativity. Dr. John Lutz, English chairperson, added, “Students are very enthusiastic, it’s an opportunity for students who are interested in expressing themselves to learn how to do so in different kinds of writing styles and forms.” Digby led a field trip into New York City, during which students visited many areas of the city, rode on the Second Avenue subway (wherein art has been incorporated into passengers’ commute) and took photos of subjects such as high-rise buildings to evoke creative writing. Digby’s trip emphasized how “New York, a city based on a grid plan, encourages pushing and curving the lines as a creative, ever-expanding city,” she said. Everything we experienced added to the concept of writing “outside the lines,” Digby said. Lutz ran a component about nature writing. “I think the Institute itself is a really good experience for students and people teaching it,” he said.
A digital game design institute was also offered. “Students split their time between learning fundamentals of game design and how to use the industry standard game engine Unity3D,” Andrew Wallace, assistant professor of digital game design, said. By then end of the institute, the 21 participants flexed their design muscles on both a board game and a digital, first person game, Wallace said.
Amy Freedman, chairperson of the political science department, ran an institute called, “Model UN – A Foreign Affair.” The class consisted of classroom lecture and discussion, a UN Security Council simulation done online and field trips into the city,” Freedman said. The 29 participating students visited the United Nations Visitor Centre and the Museum of Natural History. “One of the areas we focused our discussions on during the week was on international environmental agreements,” she said. This summer was Freedman’s first summer teaching a Summer Honors Institute. “It worked out well; the students were very bright, very motivated and all came ready to have fun and learn a lot,” she said.