IGNITE Spring 2019 - Page 12

A Longstanding Foundation in Fine Arts The construction of the Howard Center is the most recent testament to Roman Catholic’s deep-seated devotion to promoting art-centered lifestyles and careers for its students. This year, students grades 9–12 are also participating in the 25th year of the school’s PAFA-sponsored afterschool studio arts program, a multi- disciplinary series of college-level fine arts courses. As part of the PAFA partnership, Roman Catholic students have the opportunity to study four studio art disciplines: Still Life, Oil Painting, Illustration, and Life Drawing — each under the supervision of PAFA-associated arts educators and professional artists. Students can choose to enroll in any or all of the classes offered, but must first apply and be accepted to the program. As of today, Roman Catholic students have a 100% acceptance rate. While Roman Catholic has always held the arts in high esteem, art advocates at the school recognize it did not always have the materials or the technical insight to offer promising artists an honors-level arts curriculum. This understanding, as well as a desire to give back to the community, is what led 1969 alumnus Dan DiLella to pursue a partnership between Roman Catholic High School and PAFA in the early 1990s. In 1994, his efforts were successful, launching the afterschool studio arts program with a pilot class of 12 Roman Catholic students. The program would eventually broaden to include students from dozens of public, charter, and parochial schools throughout Philadelphia, fulfilling DiLella’s dream of more meaningfully connecting aspiring artists to the resources and materials they need to flourish in their mediums. Bongard notes that his school has also developed direct relationships with organizations including: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Foundation, Studio Incamminati, the Philly Pops, Kimmel Center, and the Pennsylvania Ballet. “These relationships provide opportunities for our students to be exposed to a variety of the arts, to develop their own talents, and to grow in a greater appreciation of the fine and performing arts,” Bongard says. 12