For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in the arts. A comprehensive arts education was at the center of my young life. I grew up at the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, and every day was a new adventure. I took private lessons in dance and music, and eventually went to the OCVTS Performing Arts Academy, which is an arts high school made available to high school students in Ocean County. Throughout my academic career, I maintained a 4.0 average, was able to take all advanced classes in middle and high school, and get involved in various extracurricular activities. I graduated high school with 160 credits, when the New Jersey standard is 120 credits. Currently, I have the privilege of serving New Jersey as Miss Atlantic Shores, which is a title in the Miss America Organization.
Throughout my year of service, I have been promoting the importance of arts education, and how it can shape a child into a well-rounded member of the world. I have spoken at schools and public events, empowering children and young adults with their personal power, and how they can grow that power through the arts. I aim to be a role model for children who want to get involved in the arts, but may be afraid of trying something new. Access to the arts can supplement a traditional academic curriculum, and studies have shown that children who participate in an artistic class or club have scored higher on standardized testing. More than that, though, the arts encourage children to express themselves. Young people yearn to have a voice, and an artistic outlet can help them discover that voice. The world we are creating is creative and forward-thinking, and we need strong, impassioned individuals who will make a change. That confidence and drive is garnered at a young age, and I have seen firsthand how the arts can help foster that confidence.
I strive to be the example that an arts education can help you leaps and bounds, regardless of whether or not you continue into an arts related occupation. My goal is to show young people that armed with an arts education, they will realize how powerful they really are. I truly believe that once involved in the arts, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. The world is at your fingertips, you have to decide when you’re ready to take it.
Guest Blog by Christa Steiner is, first and foremost, a Jersey girl! Born and raised in Beach Haven, she is a member of the inaugural Musical Theatre Program at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music in New York City. She has performed with Kristin Chenoweth, Norm Lewis, and most recently, with Megan Hilty at Carnegie Hall. She is the Manager of the Show Place Ice Cream Parlour in Beach Haven, as well as the Social Media Director of Surflight Theatre. She currently holds the title of Miss Atlantic Shores 2018, and uses her title to promote the importance of arts education with her platform, ART for smART. She will be competing for the title of Miss New Jersey 2018 in June.