by Amber Neri
A college student competing for space in an art or photography class at ULV against someone who may be a high school junior or senior is not as uncanny as it may sound.
By providing a bridge program between the Bonita Unified School District (BUSD) and the University of La Verne, the John Mainiero Arts Institute has manifested a program that caters to high school students with great ambition.
This concept is based on the “need to provide high school students with a more enriched educational program through the arts.” John “Skip“ Mainiero’s death in the summer of 1993 provided the impetus to explore a partnership between BUSD and the University.
The vision of the Institute is dedicated to helping develop students’ talents through courses and experiences in the fine arts, and provide them with courses and experiences to assist in the transition from high school to college in the areas of fine arts, drama and instrumental and vocal music.
Gary Colby, associate professor of photography, has enjoyed instructing the students.
“The nature of it [the program] is to offer art classes to successful Bonita High students. They are remarkable students. They all came to us with very high references from their art faculty and many of them have already taken college level courses before,” said Colby.
Excited about equipment that they would have otherwise not get a chance to use, photography student, Allison Ortyl, a junior, is eager to learn all she can.
“It is a good opportunity to come over and use the equipment here,” said Ortyl.
Not all of the students in the program would like to attend ULV. Most are solely interested in obtaining the experiences that college life has to offer.
Photography, to BHS senior Catherine Castruita, is something that she finds fascinating. She hopes to attend college in the Monterey Bay area to work in the field of oceanography.
Junior Emily Tatsch is currently taking beginning sculpture and has found that for her, college life won’t be that much of a transition.
“I think the program is great. It prepares us for college. It is different from high school. College isn’t going to be a really big step for me,” said Tatsch.
Assistant Professor of Art George Stone has found that it is too early in the process of the program to really judge how well the students are faring as compared to ULV students or those not in the program.
“It is still too early, for me to assess it [progress], but it is nice to have them in the program,” said Stone.
Goals for the Institute are focused primarily on introducing students to the vision and desire needed to attend an institution of higher learning. The program is also dedicated to providing financial assistance to students for tuition and other related expenses for participation.
Donations, and corporate sponsorship are the sole financial providers for the Institute and its program. The amount of students allowed in the program depends upon the space in the classes as determined by the individual professors. There are eleven students in this year’s program.
With different experiences and facets of exploration, the knowledge gained by the University and district facilities fosters a maximum learning experience for ULV and the Bonita High School students as well.
“So far, they’ve performed generally above the ULV students in my class,” said Colby.
Andy Mainiero, son of John “Skip” Mainiero, is a music teacher at both BHS and Ramona Intermediate. He remains positive about the great potential that this program possesses.
“A lot of good things can happen. We are just hoping to build a financial base and we just need more manpower,” said Mainiero.