Sky Byrd grew up in North Carolina, but a few years ago she and her brother begged their parents to relocate to Carlisle.
“It was definitely a challenge, I would say, to convince my parents to make the switch, but it was something they knew we really wanted,” Byrd said. “So we packed up and moved all the way from North Carolina.”
Their motivation; to study at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.
Byrd and her brother help to make up the 40 percent of young ballet students who physically move to study at CPYB.
In addition to her dancing education, Byrd was able to earn her high school degree.
“Their academics do come first because at every point everybody stops dancing,” CEO Nicholas Ade said. “Even if you become a professional dancer, you are going to have a career after, so your academics have to come first.”
Ade says about half of the relocated students, like Byrd, take courses online. The other half attend Carlisle schools are receive a special humanities and physical education credit for their work with the ballet.
“You’re talking about a 14, 15, 16-year-old that is looking at wanting to take this so seriously that they’re considering a professional career,” Ade said.
Ade says the CPYB is world-renowned, but for some reason, less know in its hometown.
“The harder thing, actually, is here in our own community getting people to understand exactly the caliber of what they have in their backyard,” Ade said. ‘
18-year-old Ronke Morgan can attest to that. She studied at CPYB while commuting an hour each way from Frederick, Maryland.
“We home-schooled,” Morgan said. “More like car-schooled. A lot of homework in the car, but it worked out.”
Now taking college courses online, she’s continuing to dance and has finally moved to Carlisle full-time.
“I’ve gotten the confidence to know I can do anything,” she said.
The CPYB has an estimated $15 million impact on the region’s economy annually. The 60 percent of students who are labeled as “local” can come from as far away as Elizabethtown, Hagerstown and beyond.