Booker T. Washington Highschool for the Performing and Visual Arts

Development,Sandy Abernethy February 7, 2012 12:00 am

Ever wish you could go back to high school?  Me neither.  Until now.

AMP is in the midst of producing a promotional video for Booker T. Washington School for the Performing and Visual Arts.  On a recent shoot at the school, on which I served as DP and Director, I was knocked out by not just the fabulous architecture and functionality of the building itself, which we’ve documented previously, but also by the spirit, the culture, the essence of the school and the kids (sorry, I know I’m supposed to say “young people”) therein.

Watch the last video we made for Booker T.

We met 4 students whom we are profiling for this piece, and they, of course represent the school well.  They were of various ethnic and social backgrounds and each had their own art specialty they are exploring and developing at Booker T., from jewelry to theater, from violin to voice, and they also have interests outside of those, from community activism to anatomy to starting their own business.  These were exceptional kids and that’s why we were focusing on them.  But they are just the tip of the iceberg.  I have honestly never seen so many talented and interesting people gathered together under one roof, regardless of their age.  I should stop and note at this point that my wife, the lovely and talented AMP Executive Producer, Amy Lou Abernethy, is a Booker T. grad.  After spending a couple of days in the environment which nurtured her during her teenage years, I understand a lot better where much of her discipline, dedication, creativity and self reliance were fostered.

Sandy capturing an improv vocal jam session

The climate at the school is amazing.  With just a quick glance at a crowded hallway between classes, you instantly gather that these kids are happy.  Content that their desires are being embraced by the system instead of being stifled, that their differences are appreciated instead of minimized, that their independence and creativity are being nurtured instead of quashed, they are young people rapidly on their way to self-fulfillment and self-actualization.   And this sense of self translates into a sense of community that certainly wasn’t present at my high school, nor have I ever encountered it at any other of the numerous schools I’ve shot in over my long career.

Sandy working with a few theatre students

So, it’s no wonder I found myself, repeatedly during my brief visit, saying to myself, “I wish I could go back to high school.”  But not just any high school, but Booker T. Washington.  It’s both a compliment and a complaint to say it’s a one of a kind institution.  I’m thrilled that such a place exists, but I’m saddened that there aren’t more like it.  It’s our hope that our video will play some part in furthering the goals of Booker T., its administration, its faculty and its students, and that the unique approach to education that is found there will become more universally known and will be adopted as a model by many, many other schools around the nation and around the world.


  • A meeting of great creative pros & great young creatives! sure to be a great piece!

  • Suzanne K

    Could not agree more, Sandy. Our Audrey is a freshman theatre student at BTW this year. For the first time in her life, she can’t wait to get to school in the morning. From day one, she was warmly welcomed by kids in all age groups, invited to join various clubs, and encouraged by amazing teachers. When we pick her up at the end of the day, she can’t stop sharing stories. It’s a beautiful thing, and we are so grateful a school like Arts exists for our daughter.

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