Fine arts enriches students ability to create

Tiera Wilson, 17, dance, admires statuesque student art outside of the Fine Arts building. (Oliver Yu)

Faith Lawhorn

Sculpture, metal arts, painting, drawing, photography, print making, design, music and even speech are just some of the diverse offerings in the fine arts division. Most of these programs are offered year round.

“The division never sleeps,” said Rocky Cifone, former division dean. Cifone was recently promoted to Dean of Instruction and Student Services at the Advance Technology & Education Park.

Cifone started his new job July 1. Due to promotion, former Saddleback President Dixie Bullock will be filling in as acting dean of fine arts until the position is permanently filled.

The division continues to expand to meet student demand. Cifone wants students to keep an eye on the vocal music, studio arts, instrumental, and Jazz programs, which are becoming more popular each semester.  

The jazz programs, led by instructor Joey Sellers, himself a noted professional, has sent many students on to prestigious colleges and universities.  The program has provided a launching pad for professional careers.

The division also sponsors  special events and concerts year around that are open to the public and enjoy community-wide support. Upcoming events include  “It’s Curtoon Time!”   Next spring, the musical Urinetown, a dystopian satire, will be performed.  Next year’s big transition will be having a digital art and photo program.

Another important division development is Angels for the Arts,  a fundraising and support organization for the performing and visual arts at the college.

The Angels made it possible for Cifone to achieve his goal to fund more scholarships for students in music, theatre, dance, speech, and visual arts. The Angels members donate their time and talent to raise funds for a variety of campus events.

“The support we get from the community is what makes our program special and we are so fortunate to have the fine officers and volunteers who support us,” Cifone said.

Cifone also oversaw changes in the digital photography program to keep up with the changing technology and software in the marketplace.

The program already offers advanced instruction, but support for new and changing developments in the area require more college support, he said.

The division  also includes the speech department which offers courses that help students develop speaking skills and the ability to express ideas in front of an audience.

Students can improve on communication skills, group dynamics and leadership through the program’s course offerings.

Courses offer students a chance to compete against other colleges in a variety of categories.  Argumentation and Debate, SP5, is a course that produces many outstanding students who win awards regionally and nationally.

“We have an outstanding speech department and this is one of the most important skills students can develop to assure success in today’s business world,” Cifone said.  “We are fortunate to have outstanding innovative instruction in this regard.”

Even though Cifone will be gone, he would like to see expansion in the  division’s building area.

He hopes to see more rooms designated for music students and additional, larger lecture rooms.

Cifone’s most rewarding moments come when he sees students “finding themselves” through the division’s courses.

“I like seeing students achieving their goals, finding a degree of success and seeing their dreams come true,” he said.

Cifone credits the instructors and staff in the division for the many student success stories.

“Undoubtedly, the popularity of our  programs is directly related to our outstanding instructors,” he said. “They have made me look good.”

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