ALAMO RANCH – Ella Cruz says there is a prestige that follows Taft High School’s Fine Arts program.
“This is my third year in Taft theater, and it’s probably my favorite place that I’ve ever been,” Cruz said. “I’ve done community theater at multiple places, and I’ve never felt a family as strong as this one.”
There’s a culture of mutual respect she says between students and teachers. It propels their desire to put forth quality work.
“It gets pretty packed. I’ve never had a show that was empty here,” she said about the shows they put on.
Amanda Pyle is the Taft Fine Arts coordinator and head theater director. She’s been at Taft for 11 years.
Pyle says there’s a collaborative spirit that’s shared among all departments. Every other year the school puts on a full musical that includes all departments.
“We always say that we want the kids to have excellence and innovation onstage, but humility and compassion offstage,” Pyle said. “It’s not just about putting on incredible performances, which we do, but it’s also about, you know, are we learning to have good character? Are we good people?”
The school’s band, dance, orchestra and theater programs have been recognized more than 70 times at state and national competitions. The school also boasts of students who have gone on to the big screen, main stage or otherwise become professionals in the arts.
That community spirit Pyle says has spilled over beyond the campus walls.
“And all of those things are only possible because of the culture that is built here that I really believe is very unique in this city,” she said.