If you walk by the D Building these days, you may hear the rhythmic beat of drums. Or the sound of melodic voices. Or a violin concerto floating out of the second floor balcony. Give a big welcome to the Conservatory of Vocal and Instrumental Arts High School (COVAH), an expansion of the school’s K-8 charter school which has been around since 2007 just down the hill. The 60 students take their academic classes in the mornings and their performing arts classes in the afternoons. Many of the students also are taking Merritt College classes concurrently.
“We’ve been trying to get space at Merritt for the past four years since we heard about your new building,” says Dr. Valerie Abad, the school’s founder, whose own love of music led her to play 16 instruments and have a spot in the Walnut Creek Concert Band. “It’s very exciting. Merritt’s instructors have expressed how nice it is to have our students in their classes and appreciate their participation.”
Andrew Sylva, 16, has been at the school since he was in 5th grade. He plays the violin, enjoys drama, sings in the choir, and has performed with other students in such prestigious venues as the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. “I really like being at Merritt,” he says. “I’m taking English 1B and it’s always interesting to hear opinions from students of all ages.”
Doris Hankins, in Merritt’s Vice President of Instruction Office, is pleased to have her son Malique, 15, attending COVAH. “I especially like the collaboration of music with education and the small class size,” she says. “It allows the faculty to focus on the individual needs of the students. “
From all accounts, having COVAH on the Merritt campus is definitely a win-win relationship. The high school students are in close proximity to classes where they can earn college credits, and the college increases its enrollment and gets to have talented students right on campus.
“We are looking forward to hearing the COVAH students perform,” says Merritt President Marie-Elaine Burns. “They will be presenting a holiday concert for us on December 6, and we are talking about other possibilities to add live music to some of our college activities. We’re lucky to have them on our campus!”