Hopkinton POS

HCA Spotlight Series Student

 HCA Spotlight
 Learn more about the people who call the HCA 'home'.

Andrew Desmarais, student, recently seen in HCA's The Nutcracker Ballet

Tell us about yourself? My name is Andrew Desmarais and I'm a Junior at Marlborough High School. I'm an Eagle Scout in Troop 2 Marlborough, and really enjoy Scouting. For ten years, I practiced the Korean martial art of Taekwondo, starting when I was only four years old. I achieved my Second Degree Black Belt and the martial art has taught me some important life lessons like perserverance and integrity. I haven't ever really danced before, but I was in last year's Nutcracker production as Dr. Stahlbaum and Taekwondo taught me how to control my body.

How did you first get involved with the HCA's dance program? What was the experience like for you? My school friend Sarah, who dances at the HCA, asked if I would join the 2019 Nutcracker show. I agreed, and we went to rehearsals where I met everyone who was part of the production. It was an amazing experience and I won't forget it. Then at the cast party, some of the other dancers invited me to try ballet. Theresa Kniaz, one of the instructors, said that she was teaching a beginners class. I decided to give it a shot and here I am now! I really like it and I feel proud to be dancing. Everyone at the HCA has been so nice and welcoming to me and that's made the experience even better.


How have you grown as a dancer this past year? I started dancing this January and I've learned quite a lot already. I've learned many ballet techniques and exercises since I started, and I feel proud of that. My balance, strength, and coordination have improved as well, since they're an important part of of ballet.

What have the past months been like during the pandemic? When everything started the HCA's in-person classes stopped, but I was able to continue to my usual class over Zoom and I set up an area in my garage to dance. Ballet over Zoom is different, it can be harder to demonstrate and see various excercises. Recently, the HCA opened back up for socially distanced in-person classes and I took a few each week. It felt really good to see everyone again!

Anything else you would like to add? I'm really happy to be a dancer at the HCA and I can't wait to continue!



Henry Chapman, Age 9


How did you get involved in art?  I always liked to color. And as I got older, I really liked doodling and realized I was able to sketch pretty well. Then, I started working with Miss Cathy and we used pastels. That's how it took off.  


How does painting/drawing make you feel? Painting and drawing make me happy. I enjoy doing it. I also think art challenges me and is a way that makes me feel calm and relaxed; it can relieve stress for me; it doesn't always. But it can. 


What piece are you most proud of?  My Northern Lights Pastel Painting is the one I am most proud of. I love this piece because it turned out really great and it was the piece where I think I did my best blending. I also think I completed it in just two classes with Miss Cathy.


Who has been your art teacher?  Miss Cathy (Cathy Howe) has been my art teacher. I really enjoy learning from her. Miss Cathy definitely helps me become a better artist. She gives me feedback and advice. She shows me how to be the best artist I can be. 


Christine Chapman, Henry's mother


What has that experience been like for you?  The HCA has been a place of great healing for our little family of three. It's a place I believe in, with everything I have. It's a source of emotional and spiritual respite and release, connection and community. Henry, through his work with Cathy has developed so much confidence and feels empowered. He never complains about going to art. He misses Miss Cathy a lot.     


What has been the most surprising thing you have noticed about Henry's artistic talents since beginning classes at the HCA? I think what's been so surprising is how much he looks forward to art and needs it to balance him out and ground him...especially during the school year. I'm also so impressed with what he can do with pastels. He's committed to each piece and really loves art. I'm so grateful. If it weren't for his experience at the HCA and the opportunity to work with Cathy...he'd be artistic, certainly, but I don't know that he would have even known he had talent in art. There's no denying that he's capable and really quite good for an almost ten year old. And the confidence shines through in his smile. There's nothing better than that for a mom of an elementary school boy. 


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