By Christina Stock
When a young student gets accepted at the New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA), it is something very special. After all, the four-year, statewide, public high school for the arts is the only one in New Mexico that serves talented children with rigorous and award-winning arts and academic education. It is not easy to get into. The child not only has to be talented, but she or he has to have an eagerness to succeed and passion in the arts that goes beyond mere talent. Admission to NMSA is based solely on an arts audition or portfolio review — no academic criteria are used.
NMSA’s mission is to provide the highest standards of educational excellence to passionate young artists who have demonstrated artistic abilities and potential. The goal is to establish a solid foundation that will give these students a strong future and increase their potential for long-term success, so they can pursue a career in the arts or beyond.
It is exciting for any young artists to hear that they got accepted, such as Samantha Thorsted of Roswell.
The Thorsted family is well-known in the community, especially in the arts community because of their talented children, their youngest being Soren, their eldest Rose and the middle child Samantha. The first time they were mentioned in the Daily Record was on July 1, 2007 when the children finished on top with their dazzling costumes at the UFO Festival Alien Costume Contest. Samantha, 2, won the cutest kid category, dressed as Mothra, which is based on the Japanese “Godzilla” movie. In the Alien Costume Contest during the UFO Festival 2011, Rose, 10, and Samantha, 6, showed their talent designing their own costumes, with Samantha walking away with first place for most creative costume in the youth category.
The UFO Festival was not all they participated in. All three children became active on and off stage, helping the Roswell Community Little Theatre and later performing there, at Neverland Theatre and Way-Way-Off Broadway Theatre productions, as well as joining the Kids in Arts ProgramS. In 2016, Samantha was voted Miss Roswell Outstanding Teen — it was the same year she got the lead in Roswell Community Little Theatre’s production of the musical “Annie.”
Asked how Samantha, 14, and her parents found out about NMSA, Samantha said, “Actually, from your newspaper. You were doing interviews with some of the students, and we knew one of the students from the Roswell Community Little Theatre. I worked with her in KapS and I heard she was leaving, but I didn’t know where to she was leaving. My mom read it in the newspaper, and so we’ve been really working toward the school, but only this year we’ve been getting serious with it. I’ll be going into ninth grade.
“The application process was even nice, because I got to do my own stuff. Some I had to ask my mom about, but most of it was just like a normal college application. You would have to make a resume. It was like a step-by-step process. It is really nice, because it gets kids to their full potential. I had to do a little bit of writing,” Samantha said.
Samantha got into the school’s vocal program, which is part of the music department. NMSA offers professional arts instruction with the goal of student mastery in the fields of dance, music (voice, jazz and instrumental), theater, visual arts, and new, a minor in creative writing.
Once the school starts, the students are able to experiment and develop new interests.
“They ask you about your instrument,” Samantha said. “My voice is my instrument. I really have to work toward that. I’m working on a comic book, I might go into that, we’ll see if it’s something I can take, like a normal class or if it is something you have to qualify into.
“I have a lot of choices for jobs, too. I might want to help out my church or go into songwriting or Broadway. There are things that are totally not art-related, like law, that I may want to go in. I have such a broad spectrum that I can be doing and this is one of the things that really helps me with that. They said, ‘Try it, and if it is not what you want, you can get out of it, but if it is what you want, we’ll give you a whole bunch of benefits,’” Samantha said.
Samantha was able to visit the school and shadow a student to get a better insight into what to expect. “The people wanted to be there, honestly,” she said. “They were some of the nicest people. It’s not like a Broadway thing where you go in and the judge says, we have a million people and you’re not good, so go. They said, when you mess up, it’s OK, you can start again and work things out. They were so welcoming and the kids wanted to be there. I shadowed and it’s not like in regular school where there are outbursts and teachers getting frustrated. Everybody is working hard because everybody wants to be there. Almost everyone was smiling when I where there. It’s really cool.”
One big change is that the school has a supervised dorm where students stay during the week, only on the weekend they get sent home. It will be the first time that Samantha will be away from her family. Understandably, her parents were concerned and checked the procedure thoroughly.
Another concern is Samantha’s training in dance that she received at Studio+. “She loves to dance,” her mother Chris Thorsted said. “They have a wonderful dance place there. You get into Broadway a lot of times with dance. They are so willing to help the kids and their path, it’s hard to say no. We asked the other kids about them sending out letters to college, and they all are getting scholarships — have a high acceptance rate to college. Even though it will cost me a bit, it gives her a better start. That’s what did it for me. Two children from there got their way into the The Juilliard School.”
The parents were also concerned how to get their daughter to the school in Santa Fe and back for the weekends, but many friends and community members are volunteering to help.
Samantha has already made friends when she was shadowing the other student, one being from Norway. “It’s really nice to have friends from there,” she said. “I have my own set of friends here, but it’s nice when I go up there, I’ll have another set of friends. The worst feeling of moving to a different school is going up there and not knowing anybody.”
Samantha is also excited about new upgrades NMSA is receiving. “They are getting a new building and a new recording system. I write songs — it’s so cool having a new recording system, a computer lab — it’s going to be so big. It’s a whole new building and everybody is excited about it.”
Being away from Roswell will be an experience. However, Samantha said that she is planning to remain in Roswell when she is older. “I love my community,” she said. “I grew up here, and this is my starting point. For me to not pay back, I couldn’t think of that. I love it here so much, that’s why it’s hard to leave, but I’ll be back in summers.”
The next chance the public has to see Samantha on stage is during WWOB’s musical production of “Mama Mia” in June.
For more information on NMSA, visit nmschoolforthearts.org.