The OG’s of LVA

Vivian Wu, Web-Master

If you take a stroll down Frazier hall, all the way at the end, tucked in its own little corner, next to the never-ending creaking and slamming of the girl’s bathroom, you’ll find a room marked F1. If you peek your head inside, you’ll be greeted with a blazing smile and, “Please, take a tootsie roll.”

  Inside this room, with its brick walls and gray paint, sunlight is unable to penetrate through. But this lack of brightness is plenty made up for by the energy oozing from its occupier, Ms. Skeary.  Her name might seem unfamiliar to those who’ve gotten used to the desk’s former resident, but that’s because she’s newly transferred to the achievement office.

  Don’t let her new position fool you, though. Ms. Skeary has been working at LVA since its opening year, back in 1993, when a surplus caused the district to relocate staff, and she found herself placed at the doorstep of the school.

  “This is where I ended up. This is where I’ve stayed,” says Ms. Skeary, “because why would anybody want to go anywhere else?”

  It just so happens though, that this was the question theatre teacher, Mr. Morris, found himself asking as he packed up and parted ways with LVA many years back. Like Ms. Skeary, Mr. Morris has been at the school since its beginning, all 25 years ago, and even further back to when Las Vegas High School stood in its place. Conflicting ideas between him and other staff forced him to make the difficult decision of parting with the school.

  He worked in the library district for two years and found that, though it was a good job, it was incredibly mundane. He missed the challenge and excitement of theatre and working with new students on new projects. So, after initial hesitation, he realized that LVA was the place where he needed to be.

  “No one really, truly understands what we do here until they immerse in it,” he explains.

  To him, this is where new ideas and ventures grow into fruition. Student’s aren’t afraid to explore and experiment; they don’t know that they can’t accomplish what they set their mind to. That makes all the difference.

  And after 25 years, LVA still seems to be cultivating this mindset. Children of parents who once sat in Mr. Morris’s classroom are attending the same program.

  “I have never seen any other high school culture run as deep and as life long as Las Vegas Academy,” he says.

  He imagines that 50 years from now, people will remember LVA as the school that influenced all the others, and to Mr. Morris, legacy is paramount. He draws parallels between his teaching and the common theme of legacy sung in the musical, Hamilton.

  “Lin Manuel defines a legacy as ‘planting seeds in a garden you never get to see’,” he says, “That’s important to me.”

  For dance instructor, Ms. Lazenby, creating the right learning environment for her students is most important. Alumnis who’ve graduated more than a decade ago have returned to tell her of the major impact she has had on their life. This is a result of the philosophy she has fostered throughout her teaching: students should feel comfortable and welcomed and know that they’re safe to confide in her or any other adult on campus.

  “I always want students to feel that they at least have somebody,” says Ms. Lazenby.

  Although time and experience has dispelled much of her anxieties and fear about teaching, Mrs. Lazenby does worry about the kids who may “fall through the cracks,” who may feel alone and unable to seek help. But she believes that LVA has always been particularly good at making sure the number of students who do feel isolated is very low. Here, almost all students have a niche to fill; that’s what makes the school so different from any others. That’s why she asks herself, why “At LVA are students sitting by themselves at lunch?”

  Even with that said, there is always room for improvement. She’d like for more integration between majors and even the academics and art. As a former English teacher, she suggests for more collaboration between the dance and English departments.

  Nevertheless, LVA, with all of its flaws and perfection, is a remarkable school in the eyes of its dwellers. This institution, that perhaps shouldn’t have lasted for as long as it has, has been preserved and kept alive by the spirit of the teachers and students who come every year, every day since 1993, and will continue to be so for the next 25 years.

  As Ms. Skeary sums it up, “(LVA) is the bestest of the best.”