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The Arts are Powerful.

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Passion and purpose are discovered through artistic expression.

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Arts

GAC celebrates giftedness, passion, and intelligence in all its forms.This is a community where distinct individuals become empathetic, attuned partners as they pursue their artistic endeavors. Whether they choose to pursue band, drama, orchestra, choir, dance, or visual arts, each GAC student is empowered with the resources and support they need to grow and thrive. Our award-winning arts programs are led by accomplished faculty and gifted student mentors. Under their guidance, students of every age are encouraged to pursue curiosity and push their limits. 

Learn how a rigorous arts education brings out God-given gifts and nurtures bright futures.

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Arts News

GAC Symphonic Band Earns Top Honors at GMEA District 13 Large Group Performance Evaluation

The GAC Symphonic Band showcased their exceptional talent and musical prowess at the GMEA District 13 Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE) held at Paul Duke High School. This esteemed event brought together schools from across the state to be evaluated on their performance and sight reading abilities.

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GAC's 5th Grade Music Performance "Rock and Roll Forever: How It All Began" Takes Us Back in Time

GAC’s fifth-grade students recently performed in their "Rock and Roll Forever: How It All Began" music program. The program aimed to take the audience back to the days of American Bandstand, The Ed Sullivan Show, and Soul Train to explore the roots of rock and roll music

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GAC Theatre Finishes 2021-22 Season Strong

GAC Theatre finished the 2021-22 season strong by winning the Shuler Spotlight Award. Because of the win, the cast of Anastasia was invited to perform "Stay, I Pray You" at the Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, the 2022 Shuler Awards, organized by ArtsBridge Foundation, on April 21. The awards were broadcast on Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB). GAC Alum Georgia Thomas (Class of 2022), won best leading actress for her performance in the title role of “Anastasia”.

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By The Numbers

40+

Visual and performing arts electives

14

Shuler nominations since 2019

7

Art studios

24

Theatre productions a year

14

Musical ensembles

28

Instructors in School of Ballet and School of Music

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Where the Art Happens

Sara D. Williams Fine Arts Center

The Sara D. Williams Fine Arts Center is one of the most vibrant areas on campus. Students participate in a vast array of performing arts including: Band, choir, drama, and orchestra. The facility also houses the School of Music which features 8 private music lesson studios. The Clifton Jones Theatre is home to eight drama performances a year. Talented instructors combined with numerous rehearsal spaces make it possible for even more students to perfect their skills in the performing arts. This building was named in honor of a GAC grandmother who is a big supporter of the arts.

Art & Design Center

With more than 16,000 square-feet of space, the Art and Design Center is home to GAC's growing Visual Arts program. Students have access to the tools and space they need to nurture their artistic talents in classes like Sculpture, 2D and 3D art classes, Photography, and AP art classes.

Performing Arts Center

GAC's state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center offers an exquisite 50 foot stage for our band, choir, dance and orchestra performances. Seating for over 800 is found in the PAC, with a main floor, balcony, sweeping arches and wooden beams.

Bradford Center

The Bradford Center hosts the School of Ballet classes in multiple dance studios upstairs in the building. The School of Ballet offers classes for all ages and abilities in ballet, pointe, jazz, hip hop, tap and acro dancing.

Faculty Spotlight

Meet John Herndon: GAC Band Director

GAC is pleased to announce John Herndon as Band Director. John will bring our band program the expertise and knowledge to ensure our students can explore and advance their artistry. We are excited about the addition of John and the broad range of experience and opportunities that students will have with him leading the program.

GAC is pleased to announce John Herndon as Band Director. John will bring our band program the expertise and knowledge to ensure our students can explore and advance their artistry. We are excited about the addition of John and the broad range of experience and opportunities that students will have with him leading the program.

John is a graduate of the University of Georgia. He comes to us with 15 years of experience as Assistant Director of Band at several Metro-Atlanta area schools, most recently at West Forsyth High School in Cumming, GA, where he has designed and instructed an award-winning marching band, conducted three concert ensembles, taught music technology, and directed the percussion ensemble. As a composer, John has many concert percussion works available through Tapspace Publications. Several of his pieces have been selected as Editor’s Choices by music distributor J.W. Pepper.

John is excited about becoming a Spartan and helping cultivate a band program “about which the students are excited, in which they can grow as musicians and give inspiring performances, and through which they can glorify God."

John lives in Milton, GA, with his wife, Jessica, their three children, dog, two cats, and an ever-changing number of chickens.

He and his family attend Alpharetta First United Methodist Church.

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Meet Kaitlyn Thames: GAC Theatre Director and Teacher

This past year the GAC family welcomed Theatre Director Kaitlyn Thames to campus. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she attended Abilene Christian and graduated with a BFA in Theatre with hopes and dreams of a musical theatre career. However, after college, life took her in a different direction when her family moved to Nashville, Tennessee. There she fell into a teaching position at a local private school and found herself developing and directing a high school theatre program for 12 years before moving to Atlanta and joining GAC.

The GAC family welcomed Theatre Director Kaitlyn Thames to campus in 2020. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she attended Abilene Christian and graduated with a BFA in Theatre with hopes and dreams of a musical theatre career. However, after college, life took her in a different direction when her family moved to Nashville, Tennessee. There she fell into a teaching position at a local private school and found herself developing and directing a high school theatre program for 12 years before moving to Atlanta and joining GAC.

While starting a job in a new environment in the midst of a pandemic wasn’t easy, Mrs. Thames has risen to the challenge and is already creating many unique and creative growth opportunities for our theatre students.

We are blessed to have Mrs.Thames join our community, and we look forward to watching her students grow and expand their Theatre repertoire.

Read below to learn more about GAC’s new theatre director and teacher, Kaitlyn Thames. 

Tell us a little more about your upbringing and family life. Where are you from? Where did you grow up? I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas with my parents and my younger brother. My brother and I were both into theater at a very young age so we spent most of growing up being driven around to various rehearsals and performances. My parents were always supportive but our mom in particular was our biggest cheerleader. I attended public school until my freshman year of high school when I started attending Dallas Christian School (which I graduated from in 2003). 

As a child, what did you dream of becoming? 
I had so many different dreams, but most of them involved performing in some way. The specifics usually depended on whatever performer I was into at the moment. My childhood centered mostly around Whitney Houston, Amy Grant and dreams of being a pop star. And then when I discovered Broadway, there was no looking back. We made our first trip to New York as a family when I was in 7th grade, and it is still one of my favorite places on earth.

Where did you go to undergrad? Why did you choose that university? 
I attended Abilene Christian University. I first started looking at the school because that is where my high school theater teacher went and she loved her time there. I was hesitant at first because it was only 3 hours away from Dallas in this small west Texas town and I thought I wanted to get far away from Texas for college. The ACU theater program is a remarkable program that challenges their students in the best way. The professors there do an incredible job of making sure that every graduate leaves with the skills and connections that are needed to make it in a very competitive industry. 

What is your degree in?
I have a BFA in Theater with a focus in Directing.

What motivated you to go into education?
I fell into education unintentionally 12 years ago and haven’t left yet! 

Did you ever imagine you would find yourself in teaching?
I honestly did not. The community children’s theaters in Dallas were a huge part of my life and the main reason for my love of theater growing up. During college I decided that my plan would be to work at the regional and community theater level and maybe someday start a children’s theater of my own. 

Right after we graduated, my husband got a job in Nashville teaching and coaching and I intended to put my plan into motion, but I started subbing at his school and discovered that I really loved being in an educational environment. I also realized that the school did not have a theater program so I created a proposal to be hired as their theater director and spent the next 12 years building the theater program. I had absolutely no idea when I started how much I would grow to love teaching, but I’m so glad that it all worked out how it did. 

What drew you to GAC? Share the backstory of how you found GAC and decided it was the place for you? My husband, Josh Thames, actually graduated from GAC in 2003 and his family has a long history with the school. He was not into theater, but some of his friends in high school, along with his younger sister, Katy were part of the theater program while they were here. 

GAC was definitely a program that I loved hearing about and seeing what they were up to. When we learned this summer that the position here was open it seemed like the timing was perfect. Josh loved his time at GAC so getting the chance to move to Atlanta, be around family, and get to be part of this school was an opportunity that neither of us wanted to miss!
 
What courses do you teach at GAC?
I am currently teaching Drama 1 and 2, Drama Tech and Directing, and Visions

What do you enjoy most about teaching theatre?
My joke answer that I usually tell people is that it’s like having a built in audience that has to listen to me every day! Which is definitely true, but in reality, I love watching the students grow in both their passion for their confidence and skill on stage or backstage or in the booth or however they choose to be involved. Theater was such a huge part of my life growing up and I love sharing that joy and passion with my students! 

What do you do to connect with students?
Connecting with students is my favorite part of my job! I love starting class and taking attendance by asking a question and then instead of saying here when I call their name they have to answer that question. Just one of a few easy systems and games that I am putting in place to help get to know the students and what they love and enjoy. 

How does GAC provide professional development for teachers? 
GAC has done an incredible job so far of utilizing the teachers and expertise they have here on campus to help educate and inform their fellow teachers. I have been teaching for 12 years but I am doing things this year in the classroom and with technology that I have never done before. I am very thankful for an admin, tech, and teacher team here that welcomes questions and wants to help set you up for success in your classroom any way they can! 

What would you tell a parent or friend considering sending their child to GAC?
I have a son who just started K4 here at GAC and he came home the first day smiling ear to ear and telling me all about the new friends he made. We moved from Nashville to Atlanta in a 2 week period and the admissions department was incredible at getting us set up and helping every step of the way. I would definitely recommend GAC to anyone considering it!

How would you describe the culture at GAC? What sets us apart from other schools? 
I have been blown away by the welcoming atmosphere created by both the teachers and students. I have only been on campus for 3 weeks and I already feel like part of the family. I have also been so impressed by the classes and opportunities that are offered to each student here. 

Where would someone find you outside of the classroom? What are your hobbies? 
More often than not if I am not in the classroom then I am at rehearsal! But also I enjoy spending time with my family, which consists of my husband Josh and my 5 year old son, Jonas. We love adventures that involve ball games, traveling, and concerts! We also have family that live all over the country so usually if we are traveling it is to visit family or we are headed to the beach! 

What is a book you’ve read recently? 
I recently finished Untamed by Glennon Doyle and loved it! I also re-read Pride and Prejudice almost every year and my favorite book of 2019 was The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

What are you listening to right now? 
I love music and my favorite thing to do is create playlists with all different artists and genres and have them in the background constantly. My playlist of the moment includes Beyonce, Harry Styles, Maggie Rogers, Chloe X Halle, Surfaces, Bakar, HAIM, Joseph, The Head and the Heart, The Killers and so many more!

What’s one thing that’s still on your bucket list?
I would love to skydive, spend some time in London, attend Coachella, and perform in a stand up comedy show.

Read More about Meet Kaitlyn Thames: GAC Theatre Director and Teacher
Meet Nelson Galarraga '99: GAC’s Orchestra Director

Nelson Galarraga picked up his first violin at age 5. His parents made a large financial sacrifice in Venezuela to enroll him and his siblings in a private Conservatory of Music, Colegio Emil Friedman. In order to continue a ministry with the Hispanic community, the Galarraga family relocated to Atlanta and the children found themselves at GAC.

Nelson Galarraga picked up his first violin at age 5. His parents made a large financial sacrifice in Venezuela to enroll him and his siblings in a private Conservatory of Music, Colegio Emil Friedman. In order to continue a ministry with the Hispanic community, the Galarraga family relocated to Atlanta and the children found themselves at GAC.
 

As an 8th grader, Nelson did not have a strong understanding of the English language and he attended a school without a dedicated string program. Through the help ESL teachers, Nelson quickly became a part of the GAC family and, at school, poured his efforts into advancing as a soccer player.

Nelson continued to study under the tutelage of Atlanta Symphony violinist and his biggest musical influence, Juan Ramirez, for years, but his friends and teachers at school had no idea he was such a skilled musician. Nelson’s soccer coach vividly remembers sitting in a school talent show one year and the MC announced, “Now, Nelson Galarraga will play Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor on the violin.” He laughs and says he sat up in his chair and looked around as if it were a joke. “I just knew it was going to be bad. But to my surprise, Nelson made such incredible music with his violin the entire crowd went silent. Who knew that this kid I had coached for years on the soccer field had an incredible hidden talent!” The word was out – Nelson was gifted.

Fast forward to Nelson’s junior year at GAC when administrators started a 12-member string ensemble. He shakes his head with disbelief at being the Orchestra Director in 2014. “It really is quite surreal. I came to GAC, didn’t know English, and didn’t have an in-school music outlet. To see the string program start with such humble beginnings, and now to be directing the firmly established program is incredible. Who has this kind of opportunity?”

The student becomes the teacher. Director Galarraga desires to teach his students that all talent comes directly from God. He prays daily for wisdom on how to direct them, mentor them, and encourage them to be advocates for the arts. Every now and again, Nelson still kicks the soccer ball around.

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    Amy Trocchi

    “We treasure GAC's commitment to everything. If GAC says it will do something, whether it's a new sport, a club, a new program, they give it 100% after careful planning and communication. I feel like any activity or program our kids want to be a part of is managed as if it is the most important activity at the school.”

    Parent to Two Spartans