Clayton Center Introduces Over 900 Students To Performing Arts

Students wait outside of The Clayton Center with their teacher.

CLAYTON – The Clayton Center was thrilled to welcome over 900 local elementary school students to its auditorium for the new School Stage Series.

The free performing arts experience was funded in part through a North Carolina Arts Council Grassroots Arts Program grant awarded by the Johnston County Arts Council. The $3,705 grant was given to the Clayton Cultural Arts Foundation in support of programming at The Clayton Center. Funding was also provided by the Town of Clayton, who made it possible for Johnston County Public Schools (JCPS) and local homeschool students to participate in the events presented on Tuesday, Oct. 18 and Wednesday, Oct. 19.

JCPS students from East Clayton Elementary, West Clayton Elementary, Cooper Academy, Riverwood Elementary, Powhatan Elementary, and a homeschool group filled the auditorium for a performance by musician and storyteller David Gonzalez. The award-winning Gonzalez is a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department and a recipient of the International Performing Arts for Youth Lifetime Achievement Award for Sustained Excellence.

Student and chaperone on their way to find a seat.

The Clayton Center supports arts education for all grade levels and believes that live performances inspire students to view their world more creatively and connect with literature and other areas of study more deeply.

“The opportunity to go to a live performance outside a school building will be life-changing for many students. Some of them might not receive this kind of opportunity anywhere else. This show aligns exceptionally with their curriculum, and students will learn things during the show that will supplement their student course of study,” said Sarah Fawn McLamb, K-12 Fine Arts Teaching & Learning Specialist for Johnston County Public Schools.

The Grassroots Art Program grant has allowed The Clayton Center to engage students as they discover the excitement of the performing arts while learning valuable lessons that can be applied to their classroom learning at no cost to the participating schools.

N.C. Representative Donna White attended the Wednesday performance and expressed her support for arts education. She thanked The Clayton Center for providing local students with an engaging and unique performance.

Students in The Clayton Center auditorium anticipate the performance.

“I am so pleased that The Clayton Center received a Grassroots Art Program grant. I have attended several of these performances at The Clayton Center, dating back to when I served on the Johnston

County Board of Education, and they are truly wonderful,” said Rep. White. “Having also personally sponsored these events, I truly believe that these programs are a tremendous service and benefit to our students.”

The School Stage Series will continue at The Clayton Center with performances of The Ugly Duckling on Feb. 17, 2023. Visit www.theclaytoncenter.com for more information regarding the School Stage Series.

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