Art in the Right Place
Thoughts on Putnam City's Fine Arts Program from People in the Know

From Fine Arts Professionals

Amy Eschman“Although I had been in love with theatre long before entering high school, the artistic development I attained at Putnam City West truly solidified my desire to be an actor. Beyond the plays and musicals we performed each year, I was also encouraged to compete against other students from surrounding schools and districts in areas of prose, poetry and debate. I left Putnam West with a solid understanding of written word. Ms. Brown, my drama teacher, helped me prepare for college auditions and her support was paramount in my confidence to pursue an acting career. Having been a professional actor in New York and around the country for over a decade now, I can certainly see that much of my passion for the craft was instilled during my high school years.”
—Amy Eschman, Actor, Graduate of Putnam City West High School, 1995


“I thoroughly enjoyed my time performing with choir and drama while in Putnam City schools. It was a creative outlet with other talented people and I was surrounded by able, supportive and involved teachers. I ended up graduating from Oklahoma City University with a degree in vocal performance and am currently acting in community theater and singing professionally with the Cimarron Opera Company. Putnam City’s music and drama programs I was a part of growing up helped to establish a lifelong love for performing, but more than that, shaped me as a person. I’m forever grateful.”
—Kristin Fitzgerald, Actor and singer, Graduate of Putnam City North High School, 1996 James Marsden

“I've been extremely fortunate to be making a living doing what I love. I must say that the emphasis at Putnam City North High School on the creative arts was invaluable in leading me to where I am. The learning and creative environments were second to none. We were lucky to have a state-of-the-art performing arts center that met the standards of most professional facilities. My time spent on that stage in that environment gave me an enormous amount of confidence that I was able to apply directly to what I am doing now. Every high school student should feel as lucky as I feel about their high school experience.”
—James Marsden, Actor, Graduate of Putnam City North High School, 1991

Amanda Martindale“In high school I was in choir, show choir, drama and the school plays and musicals, and loved all of it. The opportunities to perform fed into my dreams to make a career in entertainment, and the skills, hard work and dedication I learned from my teachers gave me the discipline to succeed in this business. I moved out to Los Angeles shortly after graduating from high school to pursue a career in entertainment. I’ve spent the past nine years living my dream acting and singing, and just this year toured nationally in a musical and released my debut album. Thank you, Putnam City, and my supportive teachers, for giving me a chance to grow as an artist and starting me out on this amazing journey.”
—Amanda Martindale, Actor and singer, Graduate of Putnam City High School, 2001
Emily Fine
"Many artists have a difficult time fitting the mold of traditional education. Frustrated, talented artists may drop out before graduating. In another district, I might have been in such a situation. But in Putnam City schools I was able to study the arts in many forms. In addition to my regular studies I practiced painting, sculpting, dance and music. I never felt that I was being forced into a box or into one generic path of study. My electives made my education. My teachers gave me opportunities to excel and never suggested that I wasn't good enough to undertake whatever challenge I chose. Their attitudes fostered a confidence that serves me well still today as I continue pursuing my dreams on-stage and off."
—Emily Fine, Ballerina, Oklahoma City Ballet, Graduate of Putnam City West High School, 2003

Betsy Beutler
“Putnam City means a lot to me. I'm not sure what I'd be doing if I weren’t an actor, and I started that at Putnam City. It was at Putnam City that I first learned about theatre. I was cast in my first play there. I represented the school and won some drama competitions. What I learned and experienced at Putnam City gave me a sense of confidence that I still carry with me. I couldn't have loved those years more."
—Betsy Beutler, Actor, Graduate of Putnam City High School, 1999

“I teach ballet in Michigan and am so thankful for the time I spent in Putnam City Schools. I still keep in touch with many friends and teachers from each school I attended and am grateful for the positive impact they have had on my life and continue to have even now. My learning didn’t stop at dance and fine arts. I also learned essential skills such as discipline, promptness, working with others, responsibility and work ethic, to name a few. Thank you Putnam City for 12 wonderful years!”
—Anne Yeagley Ledbetter, Dancer, Graduate of Putnam City West High School, 2000

"My drama and dance teachers at Putnam City West, Linda Brown and Barbara Berard, more than helped me lay the bricks for a solid foundation. The knowledge I learned from these teachers stays with me today whether I am working in film or theater."
—Brett Leigh, Actor, Graduate of Putnam City West High School, 1999

From Visiting Artists

“It was an honor to spend time with the students and teaching professionals of Putnam City North High School. In a time when many school districts are struggling to find innovative approaches to engaging their learners, this community as developed an extraordinary understanding of and commitment to the power of arts integration to deepen the educational experience for all students.”
—Kimberli Boyd, Kennedy Center Dance Artist

From Members of Putnam City’s Board of Education

“Putnam City Schools have an excellent arts education curriculum and we continue to place a high value upon this component of our education success. While some districts have decreased or even totally shut down their arts programs, we know the importance of this facet of academia for our children and will realize how this vein of education opens up many doors for the success of our students.”
—Julie Jenison, Former member, Putnam City Board of Education

"Rarely in the Putnam City school district is the word ‘academic’ said without a thought for how the arts can be incorporated. Arts programs are built into what we do out of a firm belief that education is better when students are exposed to the arts."
—Gail LoPresto, Putnam City Board of Education

“Two of my three children have been heavily involved in the arts programs our district offers. They participated in band, orchestra, Silver Strings, choir, theatre dance and drama. The arts program provided a place they ‘fit’ in a large public school. They found a safe place to get out of their comfort zone and become well-rounded students. Our son received a scholarship in drama and has effortlessly moved into a college drama and choir department – well prepared. Our daughter is now volunteering in the after-school program at Hilldale Elementary and teaching basic dance. It’s clear the opportunity to be in front of an audience gives you skills that will empower you no matter where you go in life.”
—Tammy West, Member, Putnam City Board of Education