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Grow With New Ballet: Spotlight on Khamari McElroy

Khamari McElroy, a recent graduate of Overton High School, began his journey with New Ballet Ensemble & School at age five. “When the New Ballet Pathways program came to Dunbar Elementary, they found kids like myself who loved the arts but could not afford to be a part of it. They offered to teach us free of charge. I can remember the ecstatic expression on my face like it was yesterday,” he recalls.

Through New Ballet, Khamari has had remarkable opportunities, such as working with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, inspiring him to join the band. He now plays the tuba and trombone in multiple ensembles and joined top musicians from across Tennessee at the West Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association All-State Convention.

New Ballet’s support extends beyond dance. Khamari credits the organization for helping him manage a demanding schedule while maintaining academic excellence, saying “New Ballet worked diligently with my coaches to allow me to have make-up classes. Mrs. Katie taught me so I could manage dance, baseball and music. New Ballet supplied us with high-end computers and mentors, which played a crucial role in how I was able to keep my passion alive along with my grades.”

Khamari graduated in May 2024 from Overton High School with a 4.4 GPA as a member of the Honors Band, Key Club and the National Honor Society, ranking ninth in his class. He describes New Ballet as the foundation of his life and the true definition of a second home.

How can you help the next generation of artists like Khamari?

Khamari’s story is just one example of how New Ballet positively impacts students – in the studios and in schools through Pathways classes. Last year, alumnus Roman Neal graduated from New Ballet to attend Howard University, demonstrating the ongoing commitment to whole child development.

Currently, 70% of our students rely on partial or full scholarships, and Pathways students never pay for training. Since 2020, the demand for scholarships has greatly increased. Families are struggling to prioritize household expenses while working multiple jobs. Our mission is that no child will lose access to the arts because only those with the luxury of paying for excellence can afford it. You can help us eliminate the cost barrier by supporting Memphis’ creative children, a high-level priority for the mayors of Memphis and Shelby County.

“New Ballet is one of our nation’s first creative youth development organizations and is a recipient of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts for its work. Since its founding in 2001, this community arts education nonprofit has provided access to arts training for Shelby County students, regardless of their ability to pay. The current locations of the New Ballet Pathways Programs in MSCS Community Schools provide free training to K-12 students, eliminating financial barriers, to ensure equitable access for all Memphis and Shelby County students”.  – Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris

We need your help more than ever to continue supporting students like Khamari. Your generous donation to our scholarship fund makes a lasting difference in the lives of our students and helps us continue to empower the next generation of artists and leaders.

Posted by New Ballet at June 28, 2024