Lydia Flynn a rising high school senior is finishing up her second year at Pre-College Experience.
Later in the week Lydia Flynn would wear a white blouse and long black skirt and perform classical works on the flute with an orchestra. But at midday on Tuesday, she wore shorts and flip flops and took a few moments to strum on her ukulele while eating lunch with friends in the dining hall at Saint Rose.
“The flute is my main job. The ukulele is something fun to practice on breaks,” explained Flynn, an incoming Averill Park High School senior who was taking part in the Saint Rose Pre-College Experience for the second year.
“I’ve learned so much technique here, and it’s great to spend the time with people who take this seriously; who are really good musicians,” she added. “It’s really hard work – I practice at home after being here all day – but I love it.”
Flynn is one of 93 high school students spending two weeks in the Saint Rose program that allows a glimpse of both the rigors and camaraderie of college.
Completing its ninth season on Friday, July 21, the Pre-College Experience has now welcomed thousands of high school students. The program offers immersive learning in music, visual arts, or criminal justice. The teenage scholars and artists not only acquire tools and a higher level of learning than what they experience in high school; they also see how much they can achieve in just two weeks.
Working in the studios of the College’s Center for Art & Design, the art students concentrate on drawing and then select from among electives that include sculpture, photography, printmaking and graphic design. The program is taught entirely by Saint Rose art faculty, who are assisted by Saint Rose students. Participants tour local galleries and bring their sketchbooks outside. Their efforts will culminate at 5 p.m. Friday, July 21 with an exhibit at the Center for Art & Design, at 324 State Street.
The criminal justice program challenges participants to learn the basics of forensics. Taught by professionals in law enforcement, students get to visit a real trial, and analyze a mock crime scene by looking at fingerprints and analyzing blood splatter patterns. The criminal justice students will present their findings from a mock crime scene, including perhaps who committed a crime and how, at 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 21 at Midnight Eats, on the first floor of Centennial Hall.
Eugene Lorini is a percussionist and rising Saint Rose sophomore who is in his seventh year as a Pre-College Experience participant.
Students in the Pre-College music program will perform their final concerts at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 20 and 7 p.m. Friday, July 21 at the Picotte Recital Hall in the Massry Center for the Arts. The public is invited to all performances and presentations.
Taught entirely by Saint Rose faculty, the student musicians take part in rigorous lessons and rehearsals and they are expected to practice at night. They also perform repeatedly throughout the 10-day experience, in the orchestra, band and large choral group and in dozens of smaller ensembles.
Every year, the instructors and members of the audience see a rapid improvement in the quality of the performances in just a few days.
“We see the growth of an entire semester in just two weeks,” said David Bebe, an assistant professor of music who is director of the Pre-College Music Program. “There is no comparison between taking one class in high school and playing and learning music all day. These kids are passionate about music to the point where they can do it all day long.”
And every year students are inspired by the Pre-College experience to make Saint Rose their actual college experience. From 8 to 10 percent of participants each year, in fact, decide to attend Saint Rose.
Among these is Eugene Lorini, a percussionist and Saint Rose sophomore who is in his seventh year as a participant. Lorini started as an incoming Albany High School student, and never stopped. This year, for the second time, he is taking part as a counselor in training and technical assistant.
“When I was younger I got to see what high school would be like through this program. Then I got to see what college would be like,” Lorini said, during lunch. “I saw attending Saint Rose as a big opportunity to study music with a top faculty. Now, as a counselor, this is helping me with leadership and organizational skills in the college.”