Jacksonville Arts and Music School gets creative to safely showcase students’ talent

COVID-19 is forcing the Jacksonville Arts and Music School to get creative with showcasing its talented students. News4Jax reporter Ashley Harding joins us live.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Through music, dance, visual arts, and film, students enrolled at the Jacksonville Arts and Music School are determined to hone their skills and stand out.

At the end of each year, the students put on the annual “North Stars” performance showcase. It’s an event known for packing the house at the program’s Liberty Street campus. For JAMS’ executive director, Jason Peoples, it’s a special treat to see the students’ growth.

“It’s amazing to see how much they’ve grown and continue to grow,” Peoples said. “Some of the questions they ask now that they never would have asked two years ago about life and leadership in general.”

The Jacksonville Arts and Music School is an after-school program for inner-city youth. COVID-19 has forced the program to scale back the number of students on campus to make sure everyone stays safe. Peoples says the program is strict with safety enforcement.

Masks, frequent hand washing, and social distancing are required. For the first time, the “North Stars” performance is going from packed house to virtual spectacle. It was entirely pre-recorded, something that has never been done before.

While COVID-19 has changed the look of the performance, it’s also turned into a new learning opportunity for the film students. Peoples said that a group of students took on the task of filming, producing, and completing post-production.

“It’s one of their first times doing a project this massive,” Peoples said. “They’ve done a lot of smaller videos, interviews, and things like that. It’s been a learning experience, to say the least.”

Peoples says like so many, COVID-19 has impacted day-to-day operations at JAMS.

“You know, it’s financial concerns. It’s, we want to be able to help more students and you can’t right now because you can’t have them on the campus,” Peoples said.

While everyone works to do their best, for Peoples, the COVID challenge has revealed his students’ heart and resilience.

“They continue to keep us laughing, through all of this,” Peoples said. “Through everything that’s gone on, they let us know that despite how 2020 may have treated us this year, there’s still light at the end of the tunnel, for sure.”

Proving that when life hands you the unexpected, you learn to adapt and conquer.

The “North Stars” performance will air Thursday, Dec. 10 at 5:30 p.m. on YouTube. To watch: click here.

The Jacksonville Arts and Music School is an after school after school program currently focusing on students in grades 4 through 11. Peoples says the program typically expands a grade every year, adding around 15 students. The program also has a five-week intensive summer camp. Peoples says he often sees the biggest growth in his students during this initiative.

If you’d like to learn more about Jacksonville Arts and Music School, go here to view its website.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.