When our school opened 10 years ago, the first class (2013) didn’t have an address, or a school to visit. In the 10 years since we opened our doors in 2009, our alumni have already begun to make their mark.

From millions of plays on Spotify, to touring the world as a musician, dancer and actor, to publishing their writing, to making art that delights and challenges, to entertaining us on stage and screen, our scholar-artists are blazing new pathways in the arts. Our alumni are also scientists, educators, writers, business people, entrepreneurs and change-makers.


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Joel Ross

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Music '13

Professional Musician, Composer, & Educator

On being a member of the first class: 
“…I was excited! I was most obviously interested in jazz at the time as it was still fairly new to me and I’d only been playing the idiom for a few years. I grew from playing and practicing with my peers at ChiArts, as well as the different musical opportunities that we were fortunate enough to experience. And as a result of those opportunities, I was able to meet a lot of the musicians who I still currently play with in New York and around the world, who are also some of my closest friends.”

New York, new album, newfound passion: 
“I’m currently living in Brooklyn, and have been in New York going on five years. I’ve been playing and traveling the world professionally, leading various groups as well as being a sideman to a lot of different groups here in New York. I recently released my first album as a leader on Blue Note Records entitled “KingMaker.”  A lot of the music was written while at ChiArts, or directly inspired by friends and family during that time. I’ve found a passion in composition and have been fortunate enough to have been commissioned to present new pieces of music in the past few years.”

Jhaianne Cooper

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Dance ‘15

Miss Alabama State University, Nonprofit Founder, & College Student

Lessons learned from ChiArts:
“When I came to ChiArts in 2011,  I was very excited and interested in growing as a dancer. I was also nervous about being surrounded by so many talented students and wondered if I would fit in. I soon realized that I was in an encouraging environment and everyone was very accepting. I enjoyed being around such a diverse student body. ChiArts allowed me to grow as an artist, and my technique in multiple genres of dance greatly improved. I was challenged overall in the arts and academically. This allowed me to develop self-discipline and I learned to balance a heavy work load.”

My studies, dreams, & community impact: 
“I currently attend Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama. I serve as the 80th Miss Alabama State University and I’m majoring in Rehabilitation Services with a minor in Dance. I aspire to become a chiropractor specializing in therapy for professional athletes, dancers, and gymnasts. In 2017, my  dream of founding my own nonprofit, Radiant Souls Community Service Organization, became a reality. We provide free services in hair, barbering, beauty, and clothing to underserved citizens of Montgomery.”

Harlan Ballogg

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Visual Arts ‘13

Painter, College Graduate, & Artisan for Louis Vuitton

Growing as an artist at ChiArts:
The days were long, which provided us with time at the end of each day to focus on art. Having that time five days a week to focus on one thing is very conducive to growth, I was able to try a lot of different mediums, learn different techniques, overall, looking back, it really helped me grow as an artist.”

Painting & designing for Louis Vuitton:
“Currently I live in Brooklyn, New York. I have a small studio in my apartment, I try to paint there at least 3 days a week. I also work part time as an Artisan for Louis Vuitton, mostly painting/customizing different items in their store as well as occasionally designing items.” 

Ariana Burks


Theatre ‘17

Stage, Film, Television Actress, & College Student

Balancing the arts and academics:
“To be able to expand the knowledge of my craft in high school?! It was mind-boggling to me at the time. The idea of ChiArts was so much more than I could have ever imagined. I have always loved musical theatre. I was a theatre kid at heart, and knowing that I would have the opportunity to major in something that I wanted to devote my life to was astounding. ChiArts pushed me to be the best artist that I could be. I was given opportunities to perform, as well as grow academically so that I could be prepared with whatever college had to throw at me. ChiArts also helped me to properly use my time as an artist. I don’t feel the pressure of deadlines and audition dates because I am prepared. I have the audition materials that I need, as well as the knowledge and power that I have when it comes to my academics.”

Future on stage, film, and TV: 
“Currently, I attend North Central College where I major in musical theatre. The film I am in, Beats on Netflix, has received a lot of positive responses, and this winter I was in DANCE NATION, the Chicago premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre. In spring of 2020, I start The Gospel at Colonus which will be at the Court Theatre in May. The pilot of a series I am in, Dearly Departed, aired just a few months ago too!” 

Alex Roy


Dance ‘17

Professional Dancer & Apprentice

On courageous spaces and confidence: 
“I knew ChiArts would be a place I could go and I wouldn’t have to worry about being picked on for dancing. As a young artist it’s so important to feel confident in what you are doing. ChiArts not only allowed me to be confident but also surrounded me with people who would support me.”

Representing ChiArts in Colorado:
“Currently I am an Apprentice at Colorado Ballet in Denver, Colorado. I feel extremely blessed and proud to be able to represent ChiArts as an alumnus.”

La’Charles Trask,


Theatre ‘14

Professional Actor, College Graduate, Volunteer Educator 

Finding myself at ChiArts: 
“This decision to attend ChiArts was my first major move towards bettering my career and life, and it was a privilege. Attending any other high school at the time would have been a very different experience, not to mention it would have put me on a different path. I definitely would have been written off as the troublemaker at any other school, but the ChiArts community of teachers recognized my potential and steered me in the right direction, a more focused direction. Through practice, strong work ethic and lots of patience, I went from an insecure thirteen-year old to knowing exactly who and what I wanted to be.”

Los Angeles & unexpected inspiration:
“I graduated with my BFA in Film Production, from Santa Fe University of Art & Design. I currently live in Los Angeles, where I’ve been for almost two years. I have an amazing team of agents and a manager, and most recently wrapped my tenth television booking. I’m also currently a volunteer at a middle school, teaching fifth and seventh-graders theatre three days a week. Never in a million years did I think I would be teaching in my spare time. My experiences in life, and in particular with these students, have opened my heart to a whole new level making my acting performances even more truthful. The best actors are the ones that make you feel something, right? You can have the career, the agents, the money, but at the end of the day what feeds your soul? I think right now that’s what i’m striving for… creating meaningful art and using my platform to build others in my community. ChiArts helped me build this foundation, and for that I am forever grateful.”


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