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Baltimore School For The Arts Remains A Magnet For Young Talent

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Several very famous actors, musicians and dancers all graduated from the same high school in downtown Baltimore.

Baltimore School for the Arts has been around for 42 years, and in the years since its establishment, it has become a gem in the arts community.

Though it is a public school, it also is a place where young people's dreams can become reality and where students can become stars.

Just ask senior Makayla Williams, who is studying dance and points out that Baltimore School for the Arts is far from your typical high school.

"There are so many different aspects to dance and there is something new to achieve everyday," Williams said. "A lot of times dancers go to school with kids that aren't particularly interested in the arts. So, I feel like coming to BSA was really important for me because I wanted to be surrounded by all the supportive energy."

The school's more than 400 students get elite training in visual arts, theatre, music, film and dance.

Interim Executive Director Roz Cauthen is in charge of it all.

"Our goal is to use the arts at a level of excellency to the point where it can change kids' lives," Cauthen said.

That training has changed the lives of so many stars we know. BSA has a long list of successful alumni.

Tupac, Jada Pinkett Smith, fashion designer Christian Siriano, Larry Gilliard, Jr., who played D'Angelo Barksdale on The Wire--and one we spoke with one-on–one, Tracie Thoms.

"I just think that the training is so stellar there," Thoms said. "It literally unlocks something in you. Whether you go into the arts or not. It just unlocks your world view."

Thoms has appeared in dozens of TV series and films, including "Cold Case" and "Rent."

She grew up here in Baltimore and transferred to BSA her sophomore year. She said the theatre program changed her life.

"I think it's one of Baltimore's crowning jewels," Thoms said. "It is such a beacon of light for so many students who wouldn't have access to it in any other way and wouldn't even think of themselves in that way. I didn't think I was going to be professional actress, necessarily. I thought I was always going to, like, to do it on the weekends or for fun in addition to whatever real job I got and here I am."

Watching dreams come true here is what keeps the school's legacy going.

"Being a part of that purpose and that mission, it wakes me up in the morning," Cauthen said. "It motivates me to walk through these doors every day. I feel like I'm a part of something really special."

Williams, the senior dance student, will be off to college soon where she hopes to expand on her talents.

She's inspired by all the graduates who came before her.

"Makes me hopeful for my future, you know, if they can go off and be successful and get what they want for themselves, it makes me hopeful that I can do it for myself as well," Williams said.

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