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Sugar House Journal

Salt Lake School of the Performing Arts partners with Nibley Park

May 08, 2017 09h23 ● By Natalie Mollinet

Katelin Knight, a teacher as Utah’s School for the Performing arts Arts, teaches at Nibley Park twice a week, helping kids with their performing skills. (Savannah Spring/SPA media student)

By Natalie Mollinet | [email protected]

Since its beginning at Highland High School over 10 years ago, The Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts or SPA, now has its own building in the old Roslyn Heights Elementary School and almost 300 students. 

The school focuses on the performing arts of music, dance and theater, and has talented, driven students who want their names in Broadway lights or where ever their dreams take them. This year, SPA has decided to give back and their first stop is Nibley Park Middle School. 

Katelin Knight, the musical theater teacher at SPA, teaches at Nibley Park every week helping the seventh- and eighth-graders get a chance to experience what it’s like to be on stage. She said that the students there don’t get the opportunity to perform, so twice a week she helps them with the fundamentals. 

“I think it does so much for them,” Knight said. “(Performing arts) helps with them with their confidence and team-building skills. It’s different than sitting in a math class where you don’t really get the chance to show your creative side and in the theater program, they get to be.” 

Knight and SPA hopes that the school programs will encourage students to take a chance in the performing arts or help the students get out of their shells. SPA also allows other eighth-grade students at schools around the city to come and shadow for a day. The soon-to-be graduated student can have the chance to take four classes at SPA and see what it’s like to be a SPA student.          

SPA students commute between Highland High School and the old Roslyn Heights Elementary School down the street. They get their academic classes at Highland and then their performing arts classes at SPA from experienced teachers in the performing arts.            

“Our students are so driven, and many are lined up to go to performing arts colleges when they graduate,” Knight said. “A lot of our students do well academically in their math, science and history classes, but when they come here, this is what they really love to do, so it’s nice coming to class and actually see them love coming.”         

Knight added that even after school it’s hard to get them to leave. They work hard on their performances and their projects. They are dedicated to their rehearsals and performances and she said that’s something you typically don’t see in high school kids.      

This is Knight’s first year teaching at SPA and, so far, she loves the students and faculty. She started her performing career at the age of two in dance in Southern California. When she studied at Southern Utah University, she double majored in dance and musical theater. She has worked with the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, the Utah Opera, the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater, Hale Center Theater, and Performance Riverside. This is her first year teaching in a public school and she sees so much potential in her students.   

Knight said that being in the Salt Lake City community is a great place to have a performing arts school. There are many opportunities with professional dance companies, theater companies and music in the area. The students have had the opportunity to go see professional performances and work with the performers in them. The school itself also is constantly having performances, at around 200 in the school year, whether it’s a rehearsal or a performance. 

All their performances and rehearsals are listed on their website at