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Trollwood a class act all over town: 600 students participate in theater arts sessions

Mention Trollwood Performing Arts School and many people think only of its large summer musical.

Giving instruction
Kari Selisker teaches a drama class as part of Trollwood Performing Arts School Monday at Cheney Middle School in West Fargo. Photo by Sayward Honer / The Forum

Mention Trollwood Performing Arts School and many people think only of its large summer musical. But hundreds of area kids see the school as so much more.

"Our home base is here, but we've got lots of kids all over town," said Executive Director Vicki Chepulis as she walked the bustling hallways of Trollwood's new south Moorhead campus.

This year, about 600 students from Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead are busy spending hours in the dozens of classes offered in June and July.

The school's eight summer programs take place not just at the Moorhead site, but also within the three local public school districts.

"For some, it's their first taste of drama or theater," said Fargo teacher Kari Selisker, who teaches a Trollwood elementary school program next week at Cheney Middle School. "It offers children just one more choice beyond athletics."


Classes on everything from dance to technical theater and video arts are taught by local teachers like her, as well as artists from across the country.

Chepulis said most of the kids come from local schools, but some come from as far as Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Besides the multiple arts classes they offer, Chepulis said that the program's regional and national reputation is due to the widespread community support and involvement here, the partnership with multiple school districts and cities, and the close connection to the outdoors.

"Trollwood Performing Arts School is really unique," she added.

But she's quick to caution the school isn't centered on training students for Broadway, but for life.

"We are not a conservatory," Chepulis said. "At the core of our values is art that transforms lives. (And) it's really making a difference; we see it all the time."

Trollwood's transformative power can be seen in students like Sydney Wurzer. The Fargo South High School senior is involved in Trollwood for her sixth year not just for the theater practice, but for the marketing experience as well.

She's working as a student marketing director this summer where she shadows a professional at the school.


"It's a really unique experience," the 17-year-old said. "Where else are you going to learn marketing? It's such a learning experience."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515

Giving instruction
Caleigh Anderson, 9, left, and Haylee Brown, 12, participate in a drama class Monday with Trollwood Performing Arts School in West Fargo. The 23 students worked together to make letters while trying to be silent. Photo by Sayward Honer / The Forum

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