Folks in Broken Arrow say something special is going on in their school district and they are literally ready to sing it from the rooftops. The high school has a new media center, the performing arts center has a new namesake, and 200 kids are on their way to the biggest performance of their lives.
As the executive director of Broken Arrow's performing arts center, Mark Frie is overwhelmed by the abundance of riches that have been showered on Broken Arrow High School. And he knows that a good deal of it wouldn't be possible without the support of one of Broken Arrow's most famous alumni.
"I want to raise awareness that we have a lot of talent in our area. A lot," said Broken Arrow alumni Kristin Chenoweth.
Chenoweth graduated Broken Arrow High School in 1986 and said she's always been filled with B.A. pride. But when her name went on the theatre of the new Broken Arrow performing arts center, that pride was transformed into something much more.
"I really had a God moment where it was like, ‘what are you gonna do with that,'" Chenoweth said. "And so my answer is awareness that arts is here. Getting kids in programs here, getting people to come see Broadway shows in our town, not Tulsa, Broken Arrow. I love Tulsa too, but, you know, this is Broken Arrow."
To turn those dreams into reality, Chenoweth formed a partnership with the performing arts center, the Kristin Chenoweth Arts and Education fund. Their first joint venture hit the stage last week.
"It's the continuation of my childhood. Hopefully I'm much more mature now, but really I'm not," Chenoweth said.
A master class with Chenoweth drew more than 1,100 people and raised $30,000, much of which will be used to help pay the expenses of 200 Broken Arrow students who are set to perform next month on one of the most legendary stages in the world, New York's Carnegie Hall.
"You know for me, it's honestly remembering the opportunities that I didn't get because they just flat out didn't exist," said Chenoweth.
She said this is just the beginning. She's planning more master classes, concerts and a summer arts program. She knows from personal experience the power of the arts, and she's thrilled to help send 200 students on their way to the trip of a life time.
"I do want it to be life-changing. Life is hard, as you know. It's a gift, but it can be challenging, and I want to offer as many good times to them as I can, and this will be one," Chenoweth said.
The Carnegie Hall performance will include 200 kids from Broken Arrow's drama, choir, orchestra and band. The trip will cost a total of $400,000, and they're still raising money. You can help by visiting their website.