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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.

We believe that everyone is created with an innate desire for expression and connection, and we recognize that every student has his or her own aptitudes, goals, and purpose.

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 encouraged and 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.

Arts News

Teamwork Made This Dream Work

Congratulations to our Middle School One Act play cast! "Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook" received third place at the Middle School Georgia Theatre Conference. This was an ensemble-driven play with a focus on collaboration.

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Raising an Artist

AAt a K-12 school, younger students often spend their days looking up to the older students, aspiring to be like them one day. So when 5th-grade Spartans were invited to a special “meet and greet” session with GAC’s best High School visual artists, they were delighted. Together as a class, the young artists toured the Art & Design Center, the building where the most serious and talented visual artists take classes.

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GAC Flutist Ivy Lee Invited Back to Carnegie Hall

GAC sophomore Ivy Lee is headed to Carnegie Hall in New York City for the second time this year to perform. She recently placed 2nd in the Golden Classical Music Awards International Competition. That win comes with an invitation to play at the winners recital in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on November 3. Ivy plays flute and piccolo in the GAC Symphonic Band and the GAC Marching Spartans.

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Theater Director Kristy Winkes is Shuler Award Winner

GAC Theater Director Kristy Winkes won a Shuler Award for Best Direction at the 2019 Shuler Hensley Awards. This award underscores Ms. Winkes’ incredible skill in directing GAC’s tour de force performance of Les Miserables. The 70-person cast included students from K-12, making it the largest to date.

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Finding Meaning in Suffering: The Impact of Greece Mission Trips

Each year, GAC students have the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Greece to work alongside Hellenic Ministries, an organization that serves refugees in the area. For most, this is an incredibly meaningful experience. For senior Katie Williams, the trips she has taken to Greece since her freshman year inspired her to create an entire AP art portfolio based on the experience of the refugees she met.

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Taking on Manhattan: GAC Choir Performs at Carnegie Hall

GAC’s Concert Choir had the honor of being selected to perform "Lux Aeterna" with the New England Symphonic Ensemble at Carnegie Hall in New York City this year. Students were delighted to perform on the same stage that has hosted some of the best musicians in our country’s history. Students led by Dr. Marcus Miller put in many hours of practice to be “performance ready” for this special day.

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Junior Navya Sarikonda Becomes Published Author

Children who love to read will many times begin writing stories and creating fantasy worlds at a young age. This was the case for GAC junior Navya Sarikonda. As a child, she was a voracious reader, which her father credits to the Accelerated Reading Program beginning in Lower School. Her father recalls her in the first few years of elementary school consuming books faster than she could check them out from the Henderson Media Center. 

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Using Art for Impact: The Memory Project

GAC students in Meredith Baker’s enrichment class have taken on a special project this semester. They have engaged with the Memory Project, a charitable nonprofit organization that invites art teachers, art students, and solo artists to help cultivate global kindness by creating portraits for children around the world who have faced substantial challenges, such as violence, war, extreme poverty, neglect, and loss of parents. 

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By The Numbers

40+

Visual and performing arts electives

8

Shuler nominations in 2019

7

Art studios

8

Drama productions a year

15

Musical ensembles

18

Instructors in School of Ballet and School of Music

Mark Your Calendar

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Sara D. Williams Fine Arts Center, FA 222
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Bradford Center, Hope Studio
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Bradford Center, Hope Dance Studio
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Sara D. Williams Fine Arts Center, FA 222
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Bradford Center, Hope Dance Studio
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Sara D. Williams Fine Arts Center, FA 222

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.

Artusa Hall in the Performing Arts Center

Renovated in 2017, the Performing Arts Center includes the expansive Artusa Hall, a performance space beautifully adorned and crafted to accommodate up to 150 performers on the stage alone, as well as 950 audience members. The facility is a space for school chapels, band performances, ceremonies, and other events. The space is recognized for Frank and Susan Artusa and their children.

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.

Faculty Spotlight

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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Meet Kristy Winkes: GAC’s Drama Director

Kristy Winkes had not anticipated that she would one day be known as the beloved “Mama Winkes” by her theater students. For years, she had been an English teacher at GAC, cementing herself in a role that she loved. When her family relocated to Minnesota in 2003, Winkes was unaware then she would later return to GAC. 

Kristy Winkes had not anticipated that she would one day be known as the beloved “Mama Winkes” by her theater students. For years, she had been an English teacher at GAC, cementing herself in a role that she loved. When her family relocated to Minnesota in 2003, Winkes was unaware then she would later return to GAC. However, when theater director Clif Jones retired in 2017, Winkes was a prime candidate for a role that would build on the program’s significant success as a leader in the arts in the Atlanta area.

According to Ms. Winkes, her career matured in the years away from GAC. A small Christian school in Minnesota offered her a blank canvas. Even with her extensive experience in theater, she recognized that growing the program would require even more from her.

"Up until then, I was having fun,” Ms. Winkes recalled. “That's when the actual hard work began. It propelled me to get more training." After professional training at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Winkes was able to elevate the scale even further, swelling the program from seven students to 150 over just a few years. It was her talent for growing artists that won the attention of her former (and future) employers at GAC.

"Our program that was exceptional, she's made even better," Dr. Morris, Director of Academics and Teacher Growth said.

Whether it’s in a classroom setting or learning through experience, Ms. Winkes searches for the next learning opportunity. In class, she focuses on teaching skills that compound with practice: movement, pronunciation, comedic timing, etc. In rehearsal, she encourages the creative process in everyone, taking them from basic line delivery to embodying a full character with all of their experiences.

Though, no two learning experiences in drama look the same. “It’s my mission to grow talent and students in their potential,” Ms. Winkes said. “You can’t only do that by putting on big shows. You have to provide more opportunities for that to happen.” In creating roles for high schoolers to serve as student-directors, Ms. Winkes has crafted ways for them to refine their understandings of their skills through mentoring middle schoolers and she has grown a small army of specialized student-leaders who support productions. “I use my students with their own talents and strengths,” Winkes beamed. "It gives them more experience, leadership, and it builds their confidence...Plus, it helps me out a lot.”

One of the many student standouts include two-timer All-National Choir veteran, Gavin McDonnell, who acts as a vocal coach. He can absorb complex musical pieces and then aids his peers in learning and performing them. "He's a musical genius," Ms. Winkes said. On call for choreography, Winkes may look to emotive dancers Maya Jogekar, Jasmine Jones, and Rosemary Osbon for their eye for elegance on stage. In the award-winning One Act, “The Very Grey Matter of Edward Blank”, choreographed and played by Jones, the character only communicated through movement and was “one of the most exciting things I have directed,” Winkes said.

Ms. Winkes most recently directed the show Les Misérables. This 70-person cast included students from K-12, making it the largest to date and an excellent contender for a competition show, the Shulers, which recognizes the most elite performers and programs in Georgia. GAC’s program won eight Shuler Award nominations for the show. Among the many nominations, Ms. Winkes received her own Shuler Award for Best Direction.

 

  • Best Overall Production

  • Direction: Kristy Winkes

  • Musical Direction: Regan Jones

  • Technical Execution: Kristy Winkes, Garner Harsh, Max Martin

  • Lighting Design: Kristy Winkes, JD Cooper

  • Best Performance by a Leading Actor: David Forsman

  • Best Performance by a Featured Performer: John Michael Vestal

  • Best Choreography: Kara Johnson

  • Honorable Mention: Kristy Winkes for Costumes

  • Honorable Mention: Bronwyn Bailey for Best Performance by a Leading Actress

The Shuler Award nominations follow a successful season of accolades. For the season-opening One-Act Competition, the troupe won four different awards for their performances in “The Very Grey Matter of Edward Blank”. As judges offered feedback, one judge commented that their performance was “one of the most artistic shows she had ever seen with such a compelling message”. These awards are a reflection of Ms. Winkes’ incredible skill as a director.

Ms. Winkes' high-expectations reap higher returns. As the newest addition to the legacy of talented and devoted leadership in the Drama Program, Winkes has primed the program for future seasons of success. For her, she loves supporting the kids and being known as “Mama Ms. Winkes”.

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We are a community

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