The popular image of schools during the summer break doesn't apply to Warren Area Elementary Center.
Aside from some maintenance work, many schools can be oddly quiet in comparison to noise level during the school year. If anything, WAEC may actually get louder.
That's because it hosts Warren County Summer Music School. Attendees pack their weekday mornings with plenty of noise emanating from their instruments and voices.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Good as new
Above, Sarah Korchak demonstrates how to fix a saxophone in Instrument Repair, while Hanna Ruland plays a harp.
In addition to the meat and potatoes of traditional offerings like singing, woodwinds and brass, many of the classes are rare experiences not normally part of curriculum during the school year. Harp, anyone? Still others don't involve making music but rather interpreting it through dance and art.
Director Ann Mead said the program has expanded over 23 years to match the needs of the community. That means theater courses and even instrument repair.
Throughout the day, students do get the chance to go outside. When there's good weather, they gather in the outdoor amphitheater behind the school and a different class performs before classes start each morning. Those taking Actors Lab also use the space to stretch out and get ready to perform.
Voluntary attendance means students want to be there. And it pays off, with Mead stating several participants have been selected for regional, district and state choirs and bands.
"We can't take all the credit," Mead said. "They also have wonderful programs in school."
Attendees get to concentrate on their craft. In just three weeks, Mead said they receive the equivalent of a full semester worth of music.
While comparable to overnight music camps, students get the benefit of reduced cost through a variety of funding sources. Some of the participants do come from outside of the area, staying with relatives while they attend.
"It's always interesting to see how those from other communities do in relationship to our students," Mead said. "They fit right in and don't feel dislocated."