THERE IS A RUNNING JOKE IN THE HALLS OF FORT BEND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY, AND IT IS BETWEEN KELLY CARROLL'S SOFTBALL PROGRAM AND ROBERT SANDERS' FINE ARTS PROGRAM.
"We've had a running joke at the school that softball doesn't compete against the other sports, they compete against art," Sanders said with a chuckle. "I have eight State Championships. I think the same kind of passion that Kelly Carroll brings to sports is what I bring to fine arts."
Carroll trails Sanders by one – winning seven state titles – as it currently stands and unfortunately neither got the chance to add to the trophy case this spring due to the Coronavirus pandemic. But Sanders will quickly tell you it's not all about the eight TAPPS Arts State Titles (2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011).
"It's about those individual relationships, the students and getting to see them grow," Sanders said. "And seeing them accomplish something they never thought they could. We get to help them grow their gifts. That's the biggest accomplishment." Overall, FBCA offers an expansive selection of courses in the visual and performing arts and digital media, offering students more than 20 Honors and AP-level art options.
Courses include choral music, worship team and band, drumline, marching band, painting and drawing, 2D and 3D art, printmaking and textiles, ceramics, sculpture, welding, plasma cutting, photography, theatre, textiles, video production and broadcasting. When students first arrive at the upper school, they go through a program that mirrors the one Sanders went through at Houston Baptist University. In fact, this past spring Sanders graduated with his Masters of Fine Arts in Sculpture and Ceramics.
When a student enters ninth grade, they begin with Art 1 where they learn the fundamentals of printmaking, painting and drawing. "After year one, the students get the choice to go into painting and drawing for another year or move to sculpture, jewelry making or ceramics," Sanders said. "The ultimate thing is asking what kind of portfolio work will they be doing during their junior and senior year for college credit."
This year, TAPPS was still able to rank the top senior portfolios. FBCA had five of the Top 11 Class 5A recipients – Simon Harper (2nd), Trinity Price (3rd), Andrew Beyer (4th), Samuel Gee (6th) and Katia Garcia-Romanos (7th).
Harper's sculpture submission, Acrobatica, was accepted into the 2018 National Art Honors Society Juried Exhibition. Acrobatica was exhibited in Alexandria, VA in the NAEA Gallery & Studio.
"We are trying to encourage our students to understand the versatility of the offerings that are in place throughout the program," Sanders said. "Until you really see the work, you don't get the feeling of it. We've had college professors from HBU, Brown and Wake University come on campus and they are thrilled and marveled at the high criteria at what we're producing. "To them, they would have thought it was university work. It's flattering and exciting to know that we're doing what's right."
Some FBCA fine arts students have gone on to do amazing things in college including Marisa Torres, who works for Nickelodeon Animation as an Artist Program-Design Track. Roger Tam is a professional photographer having shot Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, while Kay Kay Blaisdell is part of the fashion blog Sugar & Spice. She has published books of her photography as well.