Students Reflect on First Year Experiences at Studio 345

Categories: ASC, Blog, Education

Studio 345 Enrollment for Upcoming Trimester is from 3-6 p.m. Sept. 3 at Spirit Square (345 N. College St., Charlotte)

 By Emily Rapport 

The lights may have been out for the summer at Studio 345, but the students who spent their after-school hours there last year still light up at the first mention of the program. Studio 345 utilizes Digital Media Arts, Digital Photography, and Multimedia Design as motivational tools for encouraging students to graduate high school and pursue post-graduate goals. But in the students’ words, Studio 345 is something else entirely.

Isabel Fajardo, a rising sophomore at Independence High School, recalls her nerves on her first day at the program.Studio 345 blog

“I was really nervous because there were going to be people I didn’t know there,” she says. Fajardo also worried that being at the studio would feel like being in school. “But it turned out to be a lot looser than I thought it would be. I got to do what I wanted to do, unlike in school. It was more laid back.”

Students praise Studio 345’s teaching artists, who teach art and technology skills, while also providing freedom for the students to pursue their own ideas. “When I brought my drawing notebook to the studio and showed it to the teachers, that changed everything for me,” says Elijah Holmes, a rising sophomore at Independence High School. “It made me feel amazing.” Fajardo agrees wholeheartedly. “The instructors take interest in what you are making,” says Fajardo. “They listen to you and try to get to know you personally, and they have conversations with you, rather than just how to make a video.”

For teens with career ambitions in the digital arts, Studio 345 is providing opportunities to acquire invaluable technical skillsets. Ketsana Thepphasone, a rising junior at West Charlotte, says that the studio has provided her a pathway into a potential career. “I would love to do something that deals with the arts,” says Thepphasone. “I’d love to continue on as a professional photographer.” The students’ projects at Studio 345 may even serve as portfolio items as they pursue college and career goals. “When I apply to college and write my resume, I can tell them that I’ve been at the studio and learned to do stop motion picture and voice over acting,” says Holmes, who hopes to pursue video game art and design at the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham.

Studio 345However, the real impact of Studio 345 transcends its artistic medium. Thepphasone says the diversity of the studio’s student body has provided a lesson in itself. “The studio has many different types of people and personalities, which has helped pull me out of the corner,” she says. “Now I can talk to people more.” For Holmes, Studio 345 has given him the chance to explore different parts of his city. “I’m meeting new people and getting to walk around downtown taking pictures and seeing a lot of new things,” says Holmes. Studio 345 has helped Fajardo develop an artistic mindset that she carries into her academic pursuits.  “Photography helped give me a broader view of what’s going on around me,” she says. “In photography, you have to try to look at things a different way, and I try to do that in other parts of my life, like when I’m writing and using technology in school.”

Whether they’re continuing their digital media skills or applying those lessons to other parts of their lives, these students will feel the impact of Studio 345 long after they leave the doors at Spirit Square. For Fajardo, the impact runs far deeper than skills: “I think it’s helped me become a better person.”

For more information about Studio 345, contact Program Director Brit Davis at 704-335-3045 or, or visit

Emily Rapport served as an Education Intern this summer at the Arts & Science Council. She is a student at Davidson College.