Dara Watkins, Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, 1996-2000

Sophomore year, 1998

I feel as though my experience at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts was as predictable as any public school in the “urban core” but unique due to my exposure to the arts.

When I entered my freshman year, approximately 60%-65% of the students were black while about 20%-30% of the students were white and the other 5%-10% were a mixture of other races.

The arts were quite rich and diverse during the time I entered the school in 1996. Students were passionate about their craft. As time progressed, the white population slowly started to decrease.

Simultaneously, the school decreased in it’s rigor of the arts and became very lenient in the audition progress for admission. By the time I was quickly approaching my senior year, ROTC was added as a program (major). This changed the climate of the school significantly and a lot of students (that were present before this change) were really upset.

I graduated before the dress code was changed to uniforms. A lot of my classmates hoped that we would not be a part of all these new additional changes. All in all, I have a neutral opinion about my high school experience. Looking back, the experience of having a major in art augmented my education but I think our programming lacked the academic programs to really give the boost I needed to enter into college.