Kudos to Our Chamber Strings Students!

Violist Philip Rawlinson (Grade 11) was awarded first prize last week at the Carolina Youth Symphony Concerto Competition! Phillip will be soloing with the orchestra later this spring.

Will Rawlinson (Cello, Grade 11), Philip Rawlinson, and Abigail Byrd (Cello, Grade 12), won the Greenville County Youth Orchestra Concerto competition this past fall and will be soloing with the GCYO later this spring.

Congratulations to our YoungArts Winners!

The Fine Arts Center is proud to announce that two of our students have been honored by the prestigious National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts)!

  • Congratulations to Merit Award Winner Pen Zuleger, whose novel was selected for recognition in the Writing category.

  • Congratulations to National Finalist Nicholas Turgeon, who has been selected as a Visual Arts winner.

Pen and Nick join 686 of the nation’s most accomplished artists in the visual, literary and performing arts. They were selected by an esteemed discipline-specific panel of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. This year’s award winners represent the top 9.5% of applications across ten artistic disciplines. YoungArts award winners gain access to one of the most prestigious programs for emerging artists in the United States in which they will have opportunities for creative and professional development throughout their entire careers.

As a Finalist, Nick will have the opportunity to participate in National YoungArts Week (January 5–12, 2020), the organization’s signature program providing artists with an intensive, weeklong and all-inclusive program featuring masterclasses, workshops and mentorship from leading artists in their fields. He will be eligible to be nominated to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, one of the highest honors given to high school seniors bestowed by the President of the United States

Sarah blackman, Creative writing

The Fine Arts Center is pleased to announce that Sarah Blackman has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.

The Pushcart Prize, the Best of the Small Presses series, has been published every year since 1976. It is the most honored literary project in America.

This is an amazing achievement! Congratulations Sarah!

Scholastic Winners!

Visual Arts STudents take home over 100 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards!

Below are the Fine Arts Center stats from 2019 Scholastic Art Awards in the SOUTHEAST REGION-AT-LARGE:

Gold Keys - 32 artworks and 4 portfolios

Silver Keys - 38 artworks and 2 portfolios

Honorable Mentions - 53 artworks and 2 portfolios

Regional One Earth Award - 1

Fine Arts Center Announces New Director

Fine Arts Center Announces New Director

Mr. Vee Popat brings 17 years of experience in public school education to the Fine Arts Center, serving as a band director for the first 9 years of his career before moving into the administrative level. He holds a B.A. in Music Education from Virginia Tech, an M.M. in Jazz Education from the University of Miami (FL), and an M.S. in Educational Administration from the University of Scranton. The bulk of Mr. Popat’s career as a music educator was in the award-winning programs of the Randolph Township Schools in Randolph, NJ. Concert and Jazz Ensembles under his direction received consistent Gold and Superior Ratings, and the Randolph High School Jazz Ensemble served as the representative student ensemble at the 2013 Jazz at Lincoln Center Band Directors’ Academy. Mr. Popat has served as the director of New Jersey Honor Ensembles multiple times, working with both Junior High and High School Concert and Jazz Ensembles at the Area and Region levels. He also was an Adjunct Faculty member of the prestigious Newark Academy Jazz Program, President of the North Jersey Area Band, and President of Region I of the New Jersey Jazz Education Association.

In 2011, Mr. Popat assumed leadership of the Randolph Visual and Performing Arts Program, serving as the Supervisor of Music, Art, Dance, Family/Consumer Science, and Mass Media programs. The Randolph Music Program was consistently named to the “Best Communities for Music Education” list by the NAMM Foundation. In 2013, he took over the Visual and Performing Arts Program in the West Essex Regional School District and quickly advanced to the role of West Essex Middle School Principal. Under his leadership, the school was named a 2018 “Spotlight School” by the New Jersey Schools to Watch Program. Mr. Popat has twice presented at the New Jersey Association for Middle-Level Education Conference and has also presented at the 2017 Association for Middle-Level Education National Conference in Philadelphia, PA.

Mr. Popat maintains an active teaching and performing career as a professional saxophonist. He and his wife Heather, a fellow educator, have three children - Nate (10), Charlotte (10), and Addison (3). They are excited to join their family in Greenville!

Kaci Kotter

Fine Arts Center Announces New Assistant Director

Kaci Cotter is a 2007 graduate of the University of South Carolina where she received her Bachelor of Music Education and Horn Performance. While at the USC she served as the Drum Major of the “Mighty Sound of the Southeast,” the USC Marching Band. Kaci later earned a Masters of Education in School Administration and Supervision from Converse College in 2013.

Prior to her arrival at D.R. Hill, Kaci served as the Director of Bands at Dutch Fork Middle School in Lexington, SC. During her tenure at D.R. Hill Kaci served as the Director of Bands where her program enrollment annually averaged 230 students and earned top ratings at local, state and national adjudicated events. Kaci was named Teacher of the Year, served in numerous leadership roles and was named to Who’s Who Among American Teachers.

Bands under Kaci’s baton have consistently received Superior ratings at local, state, regional and national competitions while receiving the highest honor possible from the South Carolina Band Directors Association, the Outstanding Performance Award. She is an active adjudicator and clinician for concert and marching events throughout South Carolina. She presented at the 2019 South Carolina Music Educators Association Conference in Columbia, SC and will present this November at the North Carolina Music Educators Association Conference in Raleigh, NC.

Kaci maintains professional affiliations with the National Band Association, National Association for Music Educators, and the South Carolina Music Educators Association. She currently resides in Greer, SC with her husband, Thomas, their two children, Henry and Clara, and their cat, Abigail.

Rebuild by Eileen Selby, Mixed Media

Eileen Selby, 2019 regional one earth award recipient

The One Earth Award provides four students whose creative works encourage the awareness of, and meaningful responses to, pressing issues of human-caused climate change with $1,000 scholarships. Special awards are awarded to students from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Rebuild (Mixed Media) by Eileen Selby was awarded a Regional One Earth Award for South Carolina. Eileen created this piece in Katy Cassell's Metals class at the Fine Arts Center.

Visual Arts Instructors Awarded S.T.E.A.M. Grant

With this grant, future Fine Arts Center Visual Arts students will create with technology equipment utilized by professional and practicing artists. FAC instructors Katy Cassell, Zane Logan and Donna Shank have been awarded a grant to fund the purchase of an ultraviolet light box and photosensitive silkscreens. Metals, Design and Photography students will use this equipment to learn techniques for printing images on multiple surfaces, such as metals and jewelry, paper, fabric and other nontraditional surfaces. These instructors were highlighted in a GCS news post here.

Will Harris' rhythm carries him to Europe

Will Harris' rhythm carries him to Europe

As part of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, Will Harris will participate in a three-week residency at Purchase College, State University of New York, and a musical tour with concerts in New York, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Read full story at

Violinist brings classical concerts to homeless shelter

Fine Arts Center alum, Kelly Hall Tompkins, leads a group of musicians during a concert in not-so-tradition venue: a homeless shelter. NBC’s Harry Smith has her inspiring story in this Sunday Closer:

Visual Arts Students take home over 100 National and Regional Scholastic Awards this year!

Founded in 1923, The Scholastic Art Awards are the longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens in the U.S. and the largest source of scholarship funds for young artists. This awards program showcases outstanding work being produced by students and schools from across the nation.

Scholastic Winners!

FAC's long-time instructor, Gary robinson is set to retire in June

Gary A. Robinson received a B.F.A. from the University of Connecticut, Education Certification earned at Hartt School of music, an M.M. in Instrumental Conducting from Mississippi College, and a D.M.A. in Orchestral Conducting from the University of South Carolina. He received additional training in orchestral conducting from Symphony School of America, the Florida Festival Conductors Symposium, and the Conductors Guild Conducting Institute.

As a music faculty member at the Fine Arts Center Robinson has taught classes in percussion, winds & brass instruments, and music theory. Robinson was FAC’s Teacher of the Year in 1996 and, in 2005 was the winner of a Surdna Foundation grant to study orchestral repertoire in New York City and drum set at the Drummer’s Collective. He has held adjunct positions as a percussion teacher at Limestone College, the University of Connecticut, and Furman University, and has served as a band director in Mississippi public and private schools. Robinson has performed as a percussionist and timpanist since 1977 and has played with orchestras in Connecticut, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. He is a veteran of the American Wind Symphony Orchestra of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and currently performs with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra.


for the 2019/2020 School Year

Samuel Hunter: Music Theory

Samuel Hunter: Music Theory

Samuel is a composer of a wide variety of music whose vocal and choral works have been performed across the United States and internationally. In addition to his work as composer, Samuel is an experienced arranger and orchestrator, and was the Principal Orchestrator for the premiere production of Frances Pollock's critically acclaimed debut opera Stinney: An American Execution. Samuel holds degrees from Furman University and the University of Houston, where he studied with Mark Kilstofte, Lorenzo Donati, and Rob Smith. He is married to répétiteur Hailey Anthum Hunter, and they currently live in Asheville, North Carolina, with their cat Dinah.

Wesley Strasser: Woodwinds / Brass / Percussion

Wesley is an active freelancer and educator in the upstate area. He performs regularly with the Greenville Symphony, Spartanburg Philharmonic, Brevard Philharmonic, and Hendersonville Symphony Orchestras. Wesley has served as principal timpanist with the American Youth Symphony and the YMF Debut Chamber Orchestra in Los Angeles, and has performed with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, USC Percussion Group, and UCF Percussion Ensemble.

He holds an M.M. in Percussion Performance from the University of Southern California and a B.M. in the same concentration from the University of Central Florida. Wesley was also the Sheffield-Wood Scholar upon graduation from the Fine Arts Center. Wesley’s primary teachers have included Joseph Pereira, James Babor, Jeff Moore, Kirk Gay, Thad Anderson, Peter Erskine, Marty Morell, Ron Schwartz, and Gary Robinson. Wesley is also an Eagle Scout

Wesley Strasser: Woodwinds / Brass / Percussion
Jennifer John: Chamber Strings

Jennifer John: Chamber Strings

Jennifer currently is the Violin Teacher and Director of the Concertato Strings at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She was also Professor of Violin at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Director of Orchestras at Peak to Peak Charter School, Faculty Emeritus at the Aspen Music Festival and School. Jennifer has been on faculty at the 2017 Wintergreen Music Academy in Virginia, and at the Rocky Ridge Institute of Music in Estes Park, CO. Jennifer was previously Concertmaster of the Wichita Symphony, Prague International Chamber Orchestra, Great Lakes Music Festival, National Repertory Orchestra and the Flint Michigan Symphony. She was also Associate Concertmaster of the Aspen Chamber Symphony for many years. In addition she was Professor of Violin at Wichita State University and First violinist of the Fairmount String Quartet as well as one of the founding members of the Ceruti Quartet in residence at the University of Memphis.

Ms. John has been a member of the faculty of the Prague International Chamber Music Festival and the Ameropa Chamber Music Festival. Other teaching positions include The University of Memphis. St. Olaf College, Carelton College, the University of Memphis and the Flint Institute of Music. Ms. John received her Master’s degree with Paul Kantor at the University of Michigan. She earned her Bachelors degree with Dorothy Delay and Kurt Sassmannshaus at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Other education includes Postgraduate study at Yale University, Lausaunne Switzerland. Ms. John has appeared as soloist with orchestras around the country. The Oregon Symphony, Oregon Mozart Players, Prague International Chamber Orchestra, Wichita Symphony, Aurora Symphony, National Repertory Orchestra, Boulder Bach Festival, University of Colorado Symphony, Wichita State University Orchestra and Youth Orchestra, Cincinnati Chamber Players and the Timberline Symphony to name a few.

FAC THEATRE INSTRUCTOR and alumni collaborate in state-wide performances

FAC THEATRE INSTRUCTOR and alumni collaborate in state-wide performances

Theatre instructor, David Lee Nelson, has been performing his solo play STAGES all over the state. Seen at Piccolo Spoleto, College of Charleston, USC, and Center Stage (to name a few), David's play is gaining momentum. Directed by Theatre FAC alum, Adam Knight.

FAC Music student, Josh Liu named Youngarts winner!

FAC Music student, Josh Liu named Youngarts winner!

The Fine Arts Center is proud to share that Josh Liu has been names a 2019 winner of YoungArts annual competition. Josh was selected from nearly 7,000 submissions from across the United States. John will receive a lifetime of encouragement, opportunity and support. Josh will gain access to financial, professional and artistic development opportunities over the course of his career through one of the most comprehensive programs for emerging artists in the United States.

Visual Arts Student, Nicholas Turgeon, named youngarts merit finalist!

Visual Arts Student, Nicholas Turgeon, named youngarts merit finalist!

Nicholas Turgeon was distinguished as a merit award winner in the national YoungArts competition. YoungArts winners help students gain access to artistic development opportunities, offering financial, professional and artistic development over the course of their careers. Nick’s installation was included in the Miami YoungArts exhibition, along with other regional winners. In February, Nick was invited to participate in a weeklong series of workshops led by five established professional artists.

Strings Chamber program receives recognition with notable ACHIEVEMENTS for 2018-2019:

Senior violinist, Josh Liu, won the Kennesaw State University Young Artist competition and will appear as soloist with the KSU orchestra in the 2019-20 season. Senior cellist, Emily Pilgrim, won the Clemson University Young Artist competition and appeared as concerto soloist with the Clemson Symphony Orchestra at the Brooks Performing Arts Center. Also, 10 Fine Arts Center students won places in the SC All-State Orchestras festival including principal viola and cello positions in both the 9-10, and 11-12 orchestras. Alumna violinist, Kelly Hall-Tompkins will join the violin faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in September. This past fall, Ms. Hall-Tompkins was inducted into the Greenville County Schools Hall of Fame.

FAC Theatre instructor nominated for recognition at the 2019 tonys!

The Advanced Theatre Ensemble students have nominated Theatre instructor, Teri Parker Lewis, for the Excellence in Theatre Education award presented by the Tony Awards. Here is the video they made and submitted - entirely on their own, without Teri knowing anything about it! If she wins, Teri gets to go to the Tony Awards and make a speech! GO TERI, GO!

FAC Voice Students compete at the SC NATS Competition in Musical Theatre and Classical and all advance to Regionals.

FAC Voice Students compete at the SC NATS Competition in Musical Theatre and Classical and all advance to Regionals.

The following students earned high scores which qualified them for regionals:

Aaron Forster, Hayley Glenn, Sarye Glenn, Virginia Kate Kirby, Ashae McCarroll, Annabel Poinsette and Ami-Faith Sherer. Tenor, Douglas Culclasure won the Upper High School Men’s category in addition to advancing to regionals. In October, the following students competed at the South Carolina NATS Musical Theatre Competition and all advanced to regionals:

Aaron Forster, Hayley Glenn, Sarye Glenn, Jenna Justice, Virginia Kate Kirby, Ella Lichatowich, Annabel Poinsette, Hannah Ramsey, Ami-Faith Sherer, William Stewart, and Carly Winans. Eve Begelman and Douglas Culclasure won both of their categories in Musical Theatre in addition to advancing to regionals.

Film students at reedy river film festival

Film students at reedy river film festival

Seven current and former film students had films screened at the Reedy Reels film festival at the Peace Center. They include Bryan Thomson, Ben Hess, Abby Poore, Hailie Gold, Karl Schmidt, Jeff Martell, and Brittany Brock.

Students Participate in Design Charrette with Libby O'Bryan

Students Participate in Design Charrette with Libby O'Bryan

February 26, 2019, Hendersonville, NC

Advanced Fiber students got to participate in a design charrette with Libby O'Bryan of Sew Co., Rite of Passage, and the Carolina Textile District. During our visit the students were asked to give feedback on a sustainable clothing line geared towards teens, while also giving feedback on branding and logo design. What an awesome way to spend the afternoon!

Creative Writing department Establishes connection to Greenville's Peace Center

Master Class with Sarah Blackman, Jacqueline Johnson, and Len Lawson