Theater program transforms students into acrobats in Aldine ISD

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's a theater arts program that combines music, singing and high-flying acrobatics, and it's giving students motivation to follow their dreams in a way they may not otherwise have been able to.

The arts program at Aldine ISD has selected students from all grade levels to participate in the after school program.

Many of the kids are underprivileged.

The teachers are highly trained and bring in experts from all over the country to mentor and help their students reach new heights in their talent.

"It's exciting to be able to work with these kids. They have all this talent inside of them," said teacher Sarita Salinas. "It gives them the opportunity to change who they would be or could be. It gives them another value system and a pride, an incentive to do better in school and get good grades."

The students attended practice every day after school for several hours.

Some of them are training to be aerialists. Others are stilt-walkers, and some are ballerinas.

"I don't know where I would be without it honestly," said dancer and aerialist Lauren Martinez. "This program is like my second family. Serita Salinas is like my second mother. I always go to her for everything. This is really my family."

Martinez is one of several acrobatic performers. She said some of what she's learned was self-taught, but the program does bring in trained professionals to work and mentor each student.

"I think it's outstanding because not only do we have this place to focus and create and hone their skills, but we also have connections to the outside world," said Bishop Pearsall. "There are people in the theater troupe that have done professional shows. There are dancers that have gone out and done professional shows."

The orchestra is a favorite for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. They have performed for him along with other City of Houston events and festivals.

"We feel grateful that we have such amazing teachers that believe in us so much and that give us so much," said Martinez.
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