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CCU Atheneum: Pianist Sarah Abushakra attended the Summer Arts Academy as a teenager, which influenced her to attend and graduate from CCU. She is now co-director of the music program at the Academy.
Pianist Sarah Abushakra attended the Summer Arts Academy as a teenager, which influenced her to attend and graduate from CCU. She is now co-director of the music program at the Academy.

Arts Academy grads now teaching camp

by Chelsey Kohler
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For pianist Sarah Abushakra, going to Coastal Carolina University’s Summer Arts Academy as a 17-year-old high school senior sold her on CCU.

“I could have gone anywhere in North Carolina, to one of the excellent colleges or universities there, but after coming [to the academy] here and studying with Dr. Philip Powell, I couldn't imagine going anywhere else,” says the Brunswick, N.C., native.

Now, 10 years later, with an undergraduate degree in music from CCU and a master’s degree in piano pedagogy and performance from the University of Georgia, Abushakra is co-directing and teaching at the Summer Arts Academy’s music program with Tonya Propst.

“It is so cool for me to be in this position,” says Abushakra, who served as CCU’s accompanist for two years and has now opened her own private piano studio. “I didn’t know anybody at the camp, and I really wanted to go home, but Mom encouraged me to stick it out, and I ended up having a blast.”

It’s what she and Logan Woodle both hope campers will do while attending the Summer Arts Academy – have a blast, learn a lot and end up coming to CCU as students.

The summer arts program is staffed by University faculty, certified teachers and professional performers and artists who all unite with one goal in mind: to teach young people who truly have a love for their particular form of art.

Woodle, a sculptor and teaching associate at CCU, will be embarking on his first summer as a teacher this summer. He is also the Occupational Safety and Health Administration coordinator and a lab technician in fine arts at CCU.

“The Summer Arts Academy is a fantastic opportunity for students,” says Woodle. “They are exposed to different learning experiences that they could not have in a normal school setting.”

Woodle, who grew up in Conway, knows firsthand about what the Academy has to offer since he was a student himself 14 years ago for four years. “I was in the visual arts program when I was a child, and it was such a great experience,” Woodle says. “I ran around and had a good time but learned a lot about art in the process.” He earned a B.A. in metalsmithing from Winthrop University and an M.A. from Edinboro University.

CCU will hold its Summer Arts Academy this June for local middle and high school students. The academy offers a challenging and fun program of fine arts in the areas of music, visual art and performing arts. This year, the music portion will be held June 7 through 13 and the performing arts portion is June 15 through 27. Lastly, the visual arts academy is June 15 through June 25 for middle school students and will run through the 27 for high school students.

Students stay in the freshman dorms during their time with the program. This year, they will be taking field trips to the Burroughs-Chapin Art Museum and the Seacoast Artists Guild Gallery. The visual arts program culminates in a final exhibit and performance on June 27 at 10 a.m. in the Edwards Courtyard and Rebecca Randall Bryan Gallery and is open to the public.

The music program, located at the Myrtle Beach High School, 3302 Robert Grissom  Parkway, Myrtle Beach, has its final performance on Friday, June 13, at 1 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Kelli Barker at 843-349-5003 or


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