Alumni Testimonials

STAC has a large alumni population who on occasion contribute videos about the program. The real value of a STAC education becomes clear once you get out into college and the real world beyond it.



Eddee Kolos, 1982

It gave me a bit of much needed confidence in my own competence. It opened my eyes to the world of theatre in NYC and beyond.

NYU, SUNY Purchase, CSUN

Parent, Make art, Work in film/tv production, Teach

Brian McCormick, 1980

A few years ago when I was out with a group of NYC high school students at BAM, sitting two rows behind us was Mr. Demaio with a bunch of STAC kids. It was like looking into a mirror of the past that never left.

SUNY Binghamton; The New School

Teach media design; teach after school arts education programs

Sara Fastow, 2007

Thanks to STAC, I already knew about 50% of the information I was supposed to learn for the first time in college. I'm not just talking about my ballet pedagogy degree and English minor. I remember talking to a recording engineering major my first week of college, and his genuine surprise at discovering I wasn't in his major, because thanks to STAC, I knew about as much about sound recording as he did. STAC gave me an amazing foundation for a career in the arts. But even more than that, it forced me to stretch my boundaries as a person, to take risks in front of my peers, and to be accountable for my own creations - skills that anyone in any field would find useful.

Hartt School at the University of Hartford

Professional Dancer

Becky Kalman, 2010

It pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I continue to be open to try lots of different things because that's what STAC was all about. I take more risks. It gave me an appreciation for film, design, and fine art. It made me more open minded about art, our society, politics, and people. It gave me confidence in myself and my talents. It taught me that it's okay to suck at something - that doesn't make you a bad person and it doesn't mean you're not talented.

Wagner College

Act, Sing, Dance

Jillian Valletutti, 2004

I loved high school. I had friends, I had passion and I had great teachers. STAC not only gave me friends, passion and a great teacher but it gave me a family and place to call home. STAC gave me the self-confidence I needed to move on to college and grad school, get my teaching degree and become the teacher I am today. Without that, I don't know where I'd be today!

C.W. POST (UNDERGRAD AND GRAD SCHOOL)

KINDERGARTEN TEACHER IN HERRICKS

Shawn Cheng, 1998

Being in STAC made me more confident and outgoing. It also exposed me to a wide range of culture (theater, film, art) that I did not get in my other classes.

Yale University

Artist, Graphic Designer

Jeff Heller, 1997

STAC taught me that it was far more important to create and argue for my own truth than to memorize and duplicate someone else's. That revelation transformed me from an average unenthusiastic B student with no plans for his futute to a straight A active learner who was anxious to make his mark on the world. I went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from college, earning numerous scholarships and awards in the process, pursued a master's and earned straight As in that program, and am now not only successful in my own life, but also a leader to both my students and my colleages. STAC was never just about the arts...it was about actively engaged learning and self discovery. I know I would not be the successful and happy professional I am todat without STAC.

Allegheny College

High School English teacher

Andrew Stein, 2009

STAC equipped me with a library of ideas and methods which Luke DeLalio and Richard Ganes assembled from a huge span of art history, and I have used the critical thinking skills I honed in that classroom in every professional environment since. The group dynamic and sense of leadership developed from my four years in STAC helped me become the Musical Director of multiple student-run groups at college and has given me a qualitative means to assess the work I put out.

SUNY New Paltz

Educational Assistant at United Cerebral Palsy, Keyboard and Backup Vocalist for "NY lights"

Saleena Subaiya, 2001

It changed my life. I never would have believed that I have it within myself to even make a video, let alone use it as a medium for disseminating information about global poverty. STAC helped me believe in myself - that I can do and be anything, and there doesn't have to be a ceiling.

U. Of Maryland, SUNY Stonybrook School of Medicine, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Masters in Public Health), Columbia & Cornell Emergency Medicine Residency

Emergency Medicine Doctor, Director "Sunday People" (Documentary about Humanitarian workers in India), Epidemiologist (about to start job with CDC regarding epidemic investigation)

Christina Reime, 2005

Being in STAC gave me an outlet for self expression. I inspire my own students to express themselves artistically.

Westminster Choir College (undergraduate- music education) Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music (MS music education)

Elementary General and Choral Teacher

Liza Brautigam, 2010

STAC gave me a strong foundation of art history and art analysis, gave me the time to pursue my interests while learning many different skills and experiences.

Pratt Institute

Animation and Illustration

Scott D Reisher, 2007

STAC taught me to think creatively about the world around me, not just when limited to the surface of a canvas or piece of paper. I would never have thought pursuing the arts as a career was possible, even on a supplemental level. Socially, STAC helped me hone my character when I still hadn't fully emerged from my shell in High School, and gave me confidence in myself and in my talent through applied instances, not just superficial praise. STAC changed my life, plain and simple. I don't know who, or where I would be now without it.

Custom Framing at Blick Art Materials

Raquel Giberstein, 1983

Huge epic impact. Regardless of career path it gave me the tools at a young age of how to: -work productively & efficiently in a team of people NOT chosen by me ( like life) -How to be self motivated & driven -how to problem solve to meet a goal & deadline -to be fearless in trying things Ive never tried before -learn that thinking creatively is the biggest part of problem solving. It is not only for "the arts". it is what creates excellence in any career & every day life!

I own my own small business Rock-L Productions providing unique and specialty entertainment for events of all kinds. Product launches, Corporations, private Events, casino's etc. I am also simultaneously the Creative Director at a larger Entertainment company called "On the Move". All in NYC

Ashley Coppolino, 2012

In STAC, I always found myself taking control of photography projects and directing films. Fast-forward to three years after high school, and I worked as a photographer at Nickelodeon and am currently a production management assistant at MTV. Thank you, STAC.

Marymount Manhattan

Photography & Production Management and Nickelodeon

Bruce Caplin, JD CPDT CDBC, 1982

Three words-- creative problem solving. This is a gift Ron taught us and forever has influenced my life.

Certified Animal Behaviorist. Expert witness services

Nicholas McGowan-Filippi, 2010

STAC taught me to follow any and all interest I have. STAC taught me to not over think my work and just get it done, no matter what that may be. As a result of this mindset, I have been able to follow my dreams of gigging and getting paid to do what I love. Onwards and always upwards.

Touring Musician

Julia Ahrens, 2008

"I learned an unbelievable amount of new stuff in STAC. When I got to college I found that I was learning a ton of the same stuff that I had already learned from being in STAC. The most important thing that I learned from STAC is how to think creatively and put my thoughts and ideas into actions, how to be open to trying new artistic endeavors, how to work collaboratively, and how to be open to trying new things that are possibly scary and outside my comfort zone/ area of talent."

College: Parsons The New School For Design

Owner and Designer of Miakoda, an eco friendly and cruelty free women's fashion company

Michelle Brown, 2005

STAC helped me realize that a career in the arts is viable. It broadened my horizons across media and introduced me to working adults in the arts. STAC always felt like a second home, an arts-oriented safe space with like-minded students.

Wesleyan University, NYU's Institute of Fine Arts

Editorial Coordinator for Sotheby's magazine and website

Grace Kwan Seghini, 2009

STAC provided a vital platform for my artistic and professional growth; not often is a teenager exposed to such a variety of mediums of expression, especially in the arts. While my main discipline in the company was for dance, I also was able to dabble in writing, directing, acting, video editing, and studio art. STAC also helped me become a much more conscious thinker; too often as students we become drones to what our teachers tell us and act without purpose. STAC questions and challenges your mind, while you also begin to form your own view on not just your own art, but on the direction you want to take your life in. I auditioned for STAC three years in a row, learning the importance of perseverance, which is needed throughout ones life. As I continue to pursue a career as a professional dancer in New York City, rejection does not phase me, and I continue to push myself because I know I can create my own success even when others doubt me. While I might not have known it at the time, STAC gave me that drive.

SUNY New Paltz

Professional Dancer/Cheerleader for Gotham City Cheerleaders, Brand Ambassador, Fulfillment Specialist, and Studio Booking Associate (I like being busy!)

Tara Fortunato, 2009

STAC empowered me. STAC taught me how to be a public speaker. STAC pushed me outside of my comfort zone. STAC validated my talents. STAC taught me how to perform. STAC taught me how to proudly take a bow. STAC taught me how to improv. STAC taught me how to stand tall in-front of strangers. STAC taught me how to present my work with pride. STAC taught me how to showcase my opinions. STAC taught me tolerance. STAC taught me compassion. STAC gave me confidence, self-worth, and a purpose when I needed it the most.... I cannot advocate for this program enough. High School was not my thing. (To say the least). I was a C student and barely graduated because I had so many absences. Being a teenager was very difficult for me. This program was the only thing I looked forward to during my day. It built up my confidence, and gave me a sense of belonging. I worked toward goals, and when I reached them I felt accomplished. A feeling that would eventually drive me to be the best at anything I did. I graduated Business School in September in the top 10 percent of my class, Cum Laude with Honors. The "skills" I left High School with, the ones that made me successful I did not learn in algebra, or science. I learned them in STAC. Bottom line: I do not believe I would be this version of myself without my time in STAC. I do not think I would have had the self worth to unleash my own potential.

Suffolk University, Sawyer Business School Currently ppplying to Law Schools!

Peter Grisafi, 2007

Actualizing my creative potential started in STAC. Every creative thinker has an enormous power within themselves, which most keep dormant. However, we can learn early in our adolescence how to give birth to these ideas - the pain of labor notwithstanding - nurturing this creativity through the remainder of our journey. STAC breaks the day's monotony, breathing life not only into the work in class, but into how we act, speak, and think outside of it. The program is built on camaraderie amongst likeminded people and therefore teaches the invaluable skill sets of not just thinking independently, but communicating effectively to and engaging purposefully with peers. And if nothing else, STAC feeds the curiosity inside of us that we are all in danger of letting die.

New York University

Full-time photographer/editor by day, startup owner on nights and weekends.

Lauren Porsch, 1997

STAC inspired me to think outside of the box when approaching a new situation or challenge. I took these problem-solving skills with me into my future academic training and professional endeavors.

Barnard College, BA; Columbia University, MPH; currently pursuing a doctoral degree in public health at the Graduate Center (CUNY)

Director of Research at a non-profit women's health organization

Julie Kashen, 1992

Nourished and nurtured my creative side Inspired boldness

University of Michigan, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

Public policy consulting; life coaching

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