Student Interviews on the Impact of the Arts
The Burbank Arts for All Foundation is proud to highlight students in the CLASS OF 2020 who have been part of the robust arts community in Burbank Unified School District classrooms. We hope you enjoy reading about their experiences and getting to know them as we celebrate an important milestone in their lives: high school graduation.
Today, we present to you Nic Skrabak, who studied film production and dance at John Burroughs High School. Nick will be attending The School of Cinematic Arts at USC this fall and wants to write and direct his own films in the future. Congratulations Nic!
My name is Nicolas “Nic” Skrabak, and I am 17 years old. My artistic medium is music. I write, perform, and produce my original songs.
What was your first experience with the arts while in the Burbank Unified Schools? I moved to Burbank the summer before 6th grade. I enrolled in the band with Dr. Whitener at Jordan Middle School. I played percussion in Beginning Band in 6th grade, and I was promoted to the Wind Ensemble, joining Jazz Band in 7th grade.
What art experience in the schools are you most proud of and how did it impact you? I skipped 8th grade, completing only two years of middle school. I enrolled at John Burroughs High School, tried out for the All Male dance team, and started performing and competing with them as a freshman.
We had a very dedicated group of dancers in my sophomore year and award-winning sets. For the first time in the seven-year history of All Male, a dance set (Ice Cream) placed first. My pride in taking first place had more to do with the long hours and hard work the team put into the performance rather than with the trophy, but it sure was nice receiving it. We practiced sometimes 6 days a week, at the dance studio and on rooftop parking garages in downtown Burbank when we didn’t have rehearsal space. I am proud of how we all rallied together as a team and created a brotherhood for the love of dance.
Because of extenuating circumstances, I did not dance my senior year, but instead, self-taught, I began writing and producing my own music. My friend, a fellow Burroughs dancer and talented guitarist, played guitar on some of the tracks of my first LP. I released it at the end of my junior year. The summer before my senior year, I released an EP. I just released my third and latest project three weeks ago during social distancing/lockdown.
I am also extremely grateful for Mr. Carman’s Film Production class at JBHS which I have been a part of for four years. Mr. Carman is a great teacher and mentor. I have learned about film and how to create a film in various mediums such as stop-motion, video montage, and green screen. I have applied what I have learned and made music videos and short films. Having a place to explore, find community, and express myself whether it be through dance, through music, or through film is and has been invaluable to me.
What advice do you have for younger students interested in doing something like what you do? My advice for younger students is to take a chance. You have to start somewhere. Your first attempt may not be what you envisioned or want it to be, but don’t get bogged down on what it isn’t, just focus on the creating part and put yourself out there! The practice may not always make perfect, but art isn’t about perfection.
Please share your plans for your future after graduation. Are you going on to college? If so, where and what do you hope to study? I am attending The School of Cinematic Arts at USC after graduation from Burroughs with a major in Film & Television Production. I would like to write and direct original films as well as continue to make music along with movie soundtracks.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you expect the arts to continue to play a role in your life and if so, how? I will let life take me wherever. The situation in the world right now, with the coronavirus, has shown me more than ever that I need to take life one day at a time. Art, however, will always be a part of my life; it is a crucial element to my existence. It helps me express and process the good and the bad, basically the world around me.
You can listen to some of Nic’s creations here or purchase his music on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. You’re welcome!