SPERO Expands its Summer Arts Programs

Posted: July 10, 2024

In 2017, three talented alumni with a passion for live theatre and youth teamed up to co-found SPERO Program for the Performing Arts. Under the direction and leadership of Ember Williams (’00), Erin Koshay (’14), and Gina Ridgley (’15), Spero has flourished and continues to expand its programs and reach, offering performing arts education on the HIU campus for youth and young adults in Fullerton and the surrounding communities. 

2024 marks Spero’s 5th camp season, hosting two weeks of camp for ages 8-13, and expanding this year to offer two additional weeks of camp for high school students. In total, 170 students attended four weeks of camp on the HIU campus this summer. The first week-long camp was offered in 2018 and had 32 campers.

Two years ago, Spero added an apprentice program, where students in grades 9-12 serve as camp volunteers, receiving instruction and gaining hands-on experience to develop their leadership skills. In addition to acting, singing, and dancing, campers and apprentices are encouraged to adopt “Spero Spirit,” which focuses on character traits such as kindness, respect, bravery, and leadership.

HIU has partnered with Spero from its inception and continues to offer support to Spero’s flourishing programs, allowing SPERO to use HIU facilities for camps and shows, sharing office and storage space, helping to promote Spero, and providing a “home” where Spero students feel safe and can thrive. 

 “We would not be where we are today as an organization, and certainly would not be able to offer the programs we are offering without the help and support of Hope,” says Ember Williams. "We are incredibly grateful to HIU for helping us get started and continuing to support us as we grow.”

As Spero continues to expand, they expose more of the community to the HIU campus and offer additional leadership opportunities to HIU students, several of whom have served as summer camp staff and interns. Spero had its first opportunity to help with facility upgrades earlier this summer, contributing to the stage floor refurbishment project.

In addition to summer camps, Spero also produces a full-length musical stage production each fall for students ages 8-18. This is an opportunity for students to hone their performance skills and build relationships with one another. To date, Spero has produced 5 shows, with a sixth, Bye Bye, Birdie, scheduled to open in November of 2024. Earlier this year, HIU officially invited Spero to begin producing the annual HIU Spring Musical as well, which Williams has directed since 2007.

The mission of Spero is to build community, foster character development, and encourage creative potential for youth in our community by providing an experience in theater education and performance in a positive environment. The word “spero” is Latin for “hope,” and the Spero co-founders, along with the HIU administration, firmly believe in the power of the arts to produce beauty, confidence, and joy through creative expression. The University and Spero look forward to a continued partnership that will help bring hope to the Fullerton community and beyond.

// SPERO website