Nowadays, with the economic problems that many Americans face – chief among them inflation and high taxes – sometimes the fallout can adversely affect our youth. Many school districts across Long Island are facing a financial crisis and cutting valuable arts programs meant to enrich and empower young people. Still, one new academy aims to bring these programs back in a big way for anyone who wishes to attend.
LuHi Arts Academy of Brookville, NY – an extension of the private Long Island Lutheran Middle and High School, which has been serving students from grades 6-12 for the past 65 years – is a private music and arts academy in its second year of existence that offers a plethora of programs for students of Long Island Lutheran, as well as for any interested independent students throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties as well.
Kate Rodis, Administrator of Marketing and Admissions, noted that the LuHi Arts Academy is essentially an accompaniment to the summer programs that Long Island Lutheran Middle and High School runs yearly.
“Since the academy is an extension of LuHi, we made courses available on Saturdays offering more of a series of enrichment courses that we have blocked together throughout the school year, serving students from 4th to 12th grade,” she said.
LuHi Arts Academy was the brainchild of Rodis’ husband, John Rodis, who has been the music director at Long Island Lutheran Middle and High School for the past 25 years, and the Head of School, John Buck. Their reasoning for opening up the program to children from Long Island was due to the downsizing of many art and music classes in many school districts. Their goal was to be able to provide quality art and music instruction to students on Long Island.
“Arts and music are the first things to go when budgets are cut, so when COVID happened, the Head of School and my husband held many meetings to evaluate their classes and worked to bolster their music and art program,” she said. “So we just felt the need to offer an extension of ourselves to provide students from all over Long Island the opportunity to experience these classes. We just wanted to help all students from different districts, not only our own.”
Another reason for the founding of LuHi Arts Academy, Rodis noted, was that their LuHi students’ schedules were packed taking various advanced placement courses, and they were not left with much time to explore their artistic options. Thus, LuHi Arts Academy is not only a resource for children across the island that are deprived of the arts but for their own busy student body as well.
LuHi Arts Academy runs three six-week “blocks” per year, meeting once per-week every Saturday. The first block runs from October through November, the second January through February, and the third from March through May. At that point, LuHi Arts Academy’s annual block ends to make way for Long Island Lutheran’s summer programs.
While attending LuHi Arts Academy, students from all walks of life are exposed to various creative outlets, getting to experience countless ways to express themselves, Rodis said.
“It’s very exciting! We offer music, art, and theater enrichment for students that may not have the opportunity or the time in their current school schedule to experience,” she said. “We’re open to all 4th through 12th-grade students from any district across Long Island. You don’t have to be a LuHi student to attend.”
“We offer great enrichment opportunities and classes such as character design, soul drumming, keyboard lab, fashion design, sewing fundamentals, jazz arts, Broadway, painting.…you name it, we have an art or a music class for it,” Rodis added.
One of the main advantages of the LuHi Arts Academy is the small class size, which allows genuine one-on-one attention between teachers and their students.
“We typically offer 3-to-4 classes per block, and each class holds about five students, for a total of twenty students per block,” Rodis said. “The classes are smaller and more intimate, allowing the teachers to be more hands-on with the students. Because we’re an academy, we only accept a limited number of students per class because parents are paying for individualized instruction for their children.”
The LuHi Arts Academy was founded at the unfortunate inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, making the project difficult to get off the ground initially; however, Rodis noted that the academy’s small class sizes worked to its advantage, making pandemic-era protocols and social distancing much more straightforward to manage once lockdown measures had been lifted.
Currently, there are no plans to expand the number of blocks that LuHi Arts Academy offers to accommodate more students; however, Rodis said that she is constantly examining the analytics and the possibility of implementing additional workshops over the winter and spring breaks, depending on demand.
In addition to the LuHi Arts Academy, Rodis also spoke very highly of Long Island Lutheran Middle and High School itself, saying that it is an exceptional place for a middle or high school student to find their way and get a quality education in small class sizes. “If someone is contemplating switching schools for their child, or they are just looking for the best possible school to provide unrivaled quality education for their child, I would strongly encourage them to check out LuHi,” she said.
Ultimately, Rodis said that providing the vital resource that LuHi Arts Academy represents to students across Long Island gives her a wonderful feeling because exposure to the arts provides fundamental building blocks for a student’s future.
“We love the opportunity to provide this… it’s my husband’s dream to provide students with this type of education in the arts. And I enjoy it because I remember being in high school myself, and I would have loved to have been able to learn how to play an instrument,” she said. “So just to allow the students to explore something in the art or music field that they wouldn’t have had the chance to, I think it’s so special, especially in this day and age.”
To learn more about LuHi Arts Academy, call 516-626-1700 or visit https://www.longislandlutheran.org/luhi-arts-academy.