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It’s always fun to expose a hidden gem, like that great neighborhood restaurant or the boutique your friends don’t know about. Consider putting Parkway Middle School of the Arts in that category.
“It’s a hidden treasure,” said the school’s principal, Bradford Mattair, in full agreement with our assessment.
The school sits in the heart of Broward County, but it’s in a quiet residential neighborhood, a bit off the beaten path. The performing arts community, however, knows all about Parkway Middle. It’s got the only middle school performing arts magnet in the county, and it’s been attracting talented kids for three decades.
“Thirty years of turning out stars, like Black Violin, like Jason Derulo, people who went here to Parkway and are now pursuing their dreams as artists,” said the school’s artistic director, Michelle Terl.
These days, Parkway’s choir is so stellar, they’re the only middle school choir in Florida to be invited to perform at Lincoln Center in New York. The event is in March, and is part of Manhattan Concert Productions.
Meanwhile, the school’s drama troupe won the Florida State Jr. Thespian Festival’s Mainstage contest, and will soon perform “Guys and Dolls” in an international theatre festival in Orlando. It’s another feather in the Parkway’s artsy cap.
“These kids are dreamers and they’re putting their dreams in front of them and projecting their dreams out to an audience and the audience has the opportunity to see these children, they’re striving to be the best at whatever they do,” Mattair said.
If they’re striving to be the best computer coder, they’re in the right place, too. In addition to performing arts, Parkway is a STEM magnet school. It includes classes in website design, robotics, drone flight, and more.
Many of the students are also in the school’s unique Center for Intellectually Talented Youth. The CITY program keeps gifted students together from third grade through eighth, doing extra enrichment.
“Socratic seminars, speech and debate, chess,” said Mattair, listing some of the enrichment activities. “Mathematics competitions, drone competitions, engineering, robotic competitions.”
The STEM magnet kids can take aeronautics, in which they learn to fly planes on actual flight simulators.
All of these activities and classes build up “the whole child,” as Mattair says, and Terl agrees.
“It’s really quite amazing to watch these young kids, they come to us, they’re 10 years old when they sign up and by the time they leave they’re 14, and they have confidence, and they’re going out there to pursue their dreams,” Terl said.
One of those dreams is to sing in that New York City event, but to get there, the kids need to raise $85,000. You can help by going to www.parkwayplayers.com, which has a link to their GoFundMe page.ter