A little piece of "Fame" plays in Clay County. Sarah Little, of Staunton, will graduate from Interlochen Arts Academy in May, 2004, with a major in theater. The talented 18-year-old has attended the fine arts high school since her Junior year in Sept., 2002.
The 1,200 acre wooded campus is located near Traverse City, Mich. Geared for college prep, the high school offers many more subjects in the arts than a traditional school. IAA's school week is Tuesday through Saturday so the public can come and watch any of the performances of the band, orchestra, theater and dance departments.
According to Sarah, IAA has some well known alumni from both the high school and its summer camp. Included are pop singer Jewel; newscaster Mike Wallace; jazz singer Norah Jones and folk singer Peter Yarrow of the group, Peter, Paul and Mary.
"The performance bug kind of bit me when I was in a little classroom play at Staunton Elementary in the 2nd grade," Sarah said. "In 4th grade, I was in 'Pocahontas' with Community Theater and was actually on stage.
"I liked it. I had a really good time and I wanted to do it again. And again and again," Sarah continued with her infectious smile exposing the big dimple in her right cheek.
The petite brunette discussed her past and her plans for the future while visiting with her family over Christmas break.
"Since I've been at Interlochen, I've kind of broadened my perspective," Sarah explained. "Now I'm leaning toward directing and producing. I still want to act but I don't want to limit myself to that."
Sarah performed in numerous plays in Clay County before going to IAA. She's done a lot of children's theater with the Community Theatre of Clay County. Her major theater credits include: Shakespeare's "The Winter Tale", Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo" and "Crimes of the Heart" by Beth Henley, also with Community Theater. She was involved with five productions at Northview High School.
Music, while not her main interest, was instrumental in Sarah's theatrical growth. She's played French Horn at both Northview High School and at Interlochen. Initially, at IAA, she carried music as a second major. Sitting at the Baby Grand piano in her parent's home, Sarah played an absorbing rendition of Beethoven's "Fur Elise".
Sarah hopes to enroll either at Emerson or Sarah Lawrence College, majoring in theater, after she graduates from IAA.
"I'd like to get into college then defer for a year," Sarah said. "I'd really like to go to Russia for a year and work with Cross Cultural Solutions. That's an organization that sends volunteers overseas. I want to help kids in Russian orphanages.
"I'd like to direct the kids in some Pushkin Tales. Russian kids know Alexander Pushkin as a great writer. His tales and acting out the stories can be very rewarding to them.
"After graduating from college, I'll probably stay on the east coast. I'd like to get into acting, directing and production. Eventually I'd like to own a business, a book store with a coffee shop, maybe, or a formal dress shop."
Sarah is the third of four children of Jim and Donna Little. Donna was asked how Sarah's absence has affected the family dynamics.
"We miss her a lot and wish she could be home more," Donna said. "But she's learned more about the things she's interested in there than I think she could have around here.
"The big difference we see is the exposure to culture. There's such a diverse culture because of where the kids come from."
The nearly 450 scholars of the Interlochen student body come from all over the United States and other countries. They come from as far away as South Korea, Japan and Macedonia. Sarah said the Macedonians are incredible clarinetists.
She was asked to sum up her feelings about her experience at Interlochen.
"It's the best experience I've had in my life yet," she said. "I have no regrets. It's been the most fun but also most difficult. Even though I work a lot, it's work I want to do.
"I miss the marching band," Sarah continued. "I miss the people, of course, but I've been able to maintain the friendships here. The most difficult part is not being here with the people I love."