The passion Josie Kirk ’20 has for ballet is much more than a teenage phase. If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, you’ll receive a straightforward response. “I want to perform in a professional company for my career.”
While Josie might display self-confidence talking about her love of dancing, her humble-nature doesn’t always run towards the spotlight. However, after we heard about her impressive accomplishments inside and outside of the classroom, we knew the Orchard community would enjoy her success story.
In the summer of 2018, following Josie’s seventh grade year, she skipped out on sleepovers with friends and lazy days by the pool after being accepted to the School of American Ballet’s five-week Summer Course in New York City. This 80-year prestigious program auditions approximately 2,500 students a year and has an acceptance rate of only about 12 to 14 percent. Not only did Josie get accepted to the summer course in 2018, but she was also accepted in 2019. She plans to complete a trifecta in January 2020 when she auditions for the third year in a row.
Josie has attended The Orchard School for more than a decade and believes her Progressive education has played a crucial role in her success as a performer. “I love that Orchard's curriculum incorporates music, art, and theater into every semester. It's helped shape me as an artist and contributed to my musicality, which is a key component of ballet,” she said. “Orchard's focus on performance and public speaking have helped me be more comfortable and confident at auditions.”
From participating in the choir and orchestra to performing in the plays and musicals, Josie has spent countless hours performing in the Orchard theater. When it comes to the classroom, she’s “an inherently hard-worker who consistently puts forth her best effort,” according to her fifth grade English teacher Allison Housefield. Middle school at Orchard begins in fifth grade along with traditional grading, and Josie, now an eighth grader, has made straight A’s throughout these years.
The Orchard School’s mission of educating the whole child was one of the main reasons Josie’s parents, Jeffrey Kirk and Stephanie Kirk, chose Orchard for their three children. “The collaboration between the student and teacher, and the hands-on learning has helped our children become the self-confident young leaders they are today, who truly love learning and going to school,” they said. Mackenzie Kirk ’15 graduated from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in 2019 with a 4.26 GPA and Danny Kirk ’17 is a junior at Brebeuf with a 3.98 GPA. Both felt well prepared for high school as a result of their Orchard experience.
High school for Josie could look a little different if ballet continues to provide its unique opportunities. Like any ballet dancer, she would love to attend the School of American Ballet’s Winter Term, a year-round intensive program essentially following the calendar of academic schools, but she’s keeping her high school options open.
For now, Josie is focused on soaking up her final year as an Orchard Owl. She looking forward to performing in her final winter and spring pageants, challenging herself in math class—her favorite subject, and spending as much time with her friends as possible. “I’m proud of the friendships I have formed at Orchard that I know will last a lifetime.”