Students Share Larger-than-Life Aspirations
At Ensworth High School, the arts curriculum is based on a foundation of understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment. An environment of open creativity and respect for the arts, students say, allows Ensworth students to find their passions and provides an atmosphere where students feel comfortable pursuing their dreams.
Musician Calvin Settles II, performer Claire Glassford, designer Andrew Gallivan, and photographer Genny Mayden are four of many students that have gravitated to and excelled at their respective fields.
Calvin Settles II
“I never like to look at myself as a drummer or a singer,” says Calvin Settles II as he beats constantly on a hexagonal practice drum pad. “I like to look at myself as a musician.”
A passion for music has been a staple in Settles’ home for generations, as he notes both his father and grandfather as his major inspirations. Settles describes his father as a child prodigy on the piano, able to play in church when he was only eight years old. Settles’ grandfather, a pioneer in the gospel group The Fairfield Four, even won a Grammy Award for his work in the music industry. The love and talent for music have been cultivated in a third generation with Settles II, who could evidently play before he could walk.
Though within the walls of Ensworth High School Settles plays predominantly jazz, outside of school he plays anything and everything he can. “I try not to limit myself to a genre or to one particular style of music,” he says. “Country, rap, rock, if it’s music, I play it.”
And Settles plays his music on a variety of instruments, including the trumpet, saxophone, tuba, piano, guitar, bass, and is also a bass singer, with his priority being the drums. Settles’ main priority right now, though, is with his newest band D.R.E. Unsure of his plans after high school, Settles is considering the idea of going to college to study music. In the meantime, though, Settles plans on following his father’s ultimate words of wisdom: “practice and stay humble.”
When Claire Glassford starred as Gretl in a high school production of The Sound of Music at a younger age, she realized her deep passion for the stage and the performers on it. “I was raised with those older girls, and I looked to them as role models,” she says. “I’ve always admired performers on the stage. They have the ability to change people’s opinions.”
Since her first experience with theater, Glassford’s presence on the stage has only increased with time. Glassford has played in countless Ensworth productions, including All Shook Up, My Fair Lady, The Winter’s Tale, An Ideal Husband, Music Man, and Hello Dolly. Playing a variety of roles, Glassford says, gives her the chance to be someone different than she is every day. “You’re able to connect with someone emotionally and then come off the stage and they’re a different person,” she says.
Her favorite character to play, though, was Eliza Doolittle. The ambiguity of the musical’s end and Eliza’s brazen and free personality have even permeated Glassford’s own life. “It’s really encouraged me to be an independent person,” Glassford says. “Her character evolves over time, and I always hope that I’m evolving and becoming better.”
Next year, Glassford looks forward to honing her musical theater skills at college, although which college is still undecided. Over two months, Glassford and her parents have been in seven states auditioning for seven musical theater programs, and there are still more auditions lined up.
The unfailing support from her parents and brother through all of her auditions and performances has only increased with time, says Glassford, who jokingly calls them “stage parents.”
Eventually, she would like to find herself on Broadway, in films, anything as long as she can continue to sing, dance, and perform. Her hometown, she says, has only augmented her drive to succeed in a competitive industry. “Nashville is a really open city because there are so many people that move in trying to get into country music,” Glassford says. “As a result, that’s made me realize that I can go and do whatever I want to as well.”
For Andrew Gallivan, fashion design has been an important part of life from a very young age. “When I was five years old I was drawing sketches,” he says. “It’s kind of weird to have a five-year-old drawing evening gowns, but that’s how it started.” Most notably, the villainous fashionista Cruella DeVille from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians struck a chord with Gallivan, leading him to want to create “outrageous dresses” inspired by Cruella’s pelts.
Though Gallivan says that his parents are “creative in a different way” than he is, he notes that his parents have passed on some important traits that translate in his art.
Working for almost two years under designer Pattie Talbot of Seam, Gallivan has seen his abilities grow, learning everything from construction to design. Gallivan studies with Talbot every day after school and all day during summer breaks “pumping out garments.” Currently, Gallivan is in the midst of working on a thirteen-piece collection that he describes as “structured and simple,” although the collection seems to change and evolve with his thoughts constantly.
Gallivan says there is no doubt that fashion design will play a large role in his life into the future, aiming to eventually end up in New York City. “I knew for sure that I wanted to be in the New York area,” he says. “It’s the fashion capital of the United States. If you really want to jump into the fashion industry, you need to be in New York.”
However, when Gallivan first visited the city two years ago, he was not initially impressed. The masses of people and cacophony of noises completely overwhelmed him. Then, after studying at Pratt Institute’s precollege program in Brooklyn, Gallivan was able to find a way to “ease into the city.” The green space in Brooklyn allowed his mind to relax. In fact, Gallivan enjoyed his experience at Pratt so much that he will be attending their school of Art and Design next year.
After his college experience, Gallivan aspires to work under a fashion designer or in a fashion house where he could learn the ins and outs of the business before branching out and creating his own label.
Genny Mayden’s interest in photography was apparent from the first time she picked up a camera as a sophomore in high school. “I don’t have a long history of myself in art like a lot of artists do,” says Mayden. “It wasn’t an epiphany when I was younger, but I really started to get into it when I took my first photo class.”
Working diligently, Mayden completed every photography class that Ensworth has to offer, all the while hoping to eventually work on a capstone project in photography her senior year. Ensworth’s capstone program allows students to work on individualized projects that the students create. The independence that Mayden gets in her capstone, she says, allows her to produce better works. “I find myself doing good work when I’m passionate about what I’m doing,” she says.
The concentration of Mayden’s capstone project is portraits. Working with people, she says, makes the experience entirely more personal. “I like relating to my subject and being able to direct,” Mayden says. “People are beautiful, and I like to represent that in photographs.”
Although there is an obvious cohesion among her works in her current project, Mayden says that typically there aren’t any patterns between her different series. In truth, she says, the only consistency with her works is inconsistency. The unknown factors involved in photography have fueled Mayden’s work, forcing her to adapt to different situations and embrace spontaneity. “I do go in with an idea, but there’s really no telling what it will turn out to be,” she says.
Next year, Mayden will be attending the University of Colorado at Boulder where she will compete in Division 1 track in the Pentathlon, a combination of five events. “The discipline I’ve learned to succeed in track has definitely helped me in photography,” she says.
After college, Mayden says that her future is uncertain but that photography will undoubtedly continue to shape her life. “Where I live and how I live my life is going to come from my photography,” Mayden says. I’ll let it lead me to wherever.”
by Lindsey V. Thompson | photography by Anthony Scarlati