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Metro Atlanta's first K-12 Fine Arts school opens in Clayton on Wednesday


Clayton County's new $19 million state-of-the-art performing arts school opens Wednesday. But dignitaries, parents and media got a sneak peak of the Martha Ellen Stilwell School of the Arts today with a flash mob performed by the school's interpretive dance students.

The three-story school, which is adjacent to the county's performing arts center, opens Wednesday with about 400 students (9th through 12th grade) who'll focus on a rigorous “college prep” curriculum. During the 2014-15 school year, the school is offering courses in dance, theatre, vocal music, orchestra, band, piano, guitar, music technology and visual arts.

With the official opening of the school, Clayton is believed to be the only school district in metro Atlanta that has a formal performing arts program for K-12 grade. For the first half of the school year, MESSA students held classes at Mt. Zion High School. The school has gained a reputation.  For the past two years students in the fine arts program have been invited to sing at Carnegie Hall.

"Hopefully some of the students who come out of the program will be the American Idols of the future," school district spokeswoman Vicki Constantinides told those who attended Tuesday's Media Day.

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The school is named after Martha Ellen Stilwell, a Clayton County educator who was the school district's first Fine Arts Coordinator. She originated the now-internationally renowned Spivey Hall Children’s Choir.

About the Author

Tammy Joyner covers local government in Clayton, Fayette and Henry counties.

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