TTUISD Gives Student the Opportunity to Follow Dreams, Receive Education

by ELIZABETH MASON

February 21, 2008

Calvin, now thirteen years old, has been dancing since he was seven. Throughout the years, his passion has led him from the Metamorphosis Dance Academy in his hometown of Round Rock, Texas all the way to New York and now Pittsburgh, Pa. Through TTUISD, Calvin is able to follow his dreams and receive his education no matter where his love for dance takes him.

During the summer of 2006, Calvin, only eleven years old, was selected by the American Ballet Theatre to be a part of their summer program. He moved to New York City, lived in East Harlem and danced all day, every day at the American Ballet Theatre on a full scholarship. By the end of this summer program, Calvin knew that one day he wanted to dance professionally as a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre.

Calvin returned to Round Rock and continued his ballet study with the Metamorphosis Dance Academy and performed in many shows throughout the year in Austin, Texas. The next summer, he was awarded a full scholarship to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School's summer intensive in Pittsburgh, Pa.

That summer, Calvin was offered a full scholarship to join the Pittsburg Ballet Theatre (PBT) to become a part of their year round Schenley program. The Schenley Program is for high school students and above. As a thirteen-year-old 8th grade student, Calvin is the youngest ever to be asked to join the program. According to the website, in order to qualify for the Schenley Program students must demonstrate exceptional talent, facility, strength and dedication along with professional potential.

As a part of the Schenley Program, Calvin has been cast in small important roles with the professional company in residence at PBT. He was hand-chosen by the artistic director of the ballet company for a small role in which he had a solo for their opening production of Don Quxiote. He also danced in the company's production of The Nutcracker which ran from Thanksgiving through Christmas. He is looking forward to the upcoming Spring performances and debuting his choreography skills in the Schenley Showcase this May.

"As we realized Calvin's passion for ballet was becoming more serious, we knew we needed to find some kind of online education program, and we wanted something in Texas," Bess said. "We searched on the internet and found Texas Tech University Independent School District (TTUISD). It just seemed like exactly what we were looking for."

TTUISD has allowed Calvin to attend school while he follows his dreams and attends the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, 1,400 miles from his home in Texas. Bess says that Calvin's school courses are in alignment with the courses that he would be taking in Round Rock; however, they are truly independent study courses. It's challenging for him without the same type of interaction and feedback he would receive in a brick and mortar school, but he is adjusting really well and is looking forward to being in 9th grade. "Some stories he read in English really moved him, history has been interesting, and he had fun with the science experiments," Bess said. The whole experience is really teaching him how to live on his own and budget his money, as well as balance school, ballet practice and performances.

Ed and Bess Hilpert live in Round Rock where Ed is a software engineer for Computer Associates (CA), and Bess is a stay at home mom. Including Calvin, they have three sons and enjoy spending time as a family. PBT has asked Calvin to continue through the 2008-2009 school year and he has gladly committed. "He absolutely loves it," his mother said.


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