On Monday, April 16, students from area schools travelled to the University Area Community Development Corporation in Tampa for the Annual Celebration Showcase sponsored by VSA Florida, Hillsborough County Public School and the University Area Community Development Corporation.

This showcase is the culminating performance for My Art My Way, an Artist in Residency Program for students with and without disabilities. This year, students from Madison Middle School in Tampa, Eisenhower Middle School in Gibsonton, Yates Elementary School in Brandon and Lennard High School in Ruskin performed.

Teaching artists who participated in the My Art My Way Artist in Residency Program included Aaron Legley, Taino Puig and Nanci Dorau. The artists taught performing arts lessons at the respective schools for eight hours over the past few months.

The performances at the Celebration Showcase included dancing, movement, music and singing. For instance, the students from Lennard High School performed You’ve Got A Friend as a group and with solos. Taino Puig said of the students, “I am very proud of the students. I had something that we had begun practicing and then one day I came in and they had come up with something different all on their own and had practiced It on their own.”

VSA Florida is a non-profit that provides, supports and champions arts education and cultural experiences for and by people with disabilities. VSA conducts arts education programs in schools, Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and at community centers. VSAFL is headquartered at the College of Education at the University of South Florida.

Jennifer Sabo is the Executive Director. Sabo said, “We had a total of eight residencies funded. The students work for eight weeks with the artists, and then they get to come on stage and perform what they learned. The students get a sense of confidence by showing that they can do this.”

In addition to the performing arts showcase, VSA has a visual art exhibit that will be featured at the Contemporary Art Museum at USF. “We try to give the students a culminating event to show off their hard work,” added Sabo.

For more information on VSA, please visit www.vsafl.org.