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13624 Steele Creek Road
Charlotte, NC 28273
Courier #: 538
P: 980-343-5006  |  F: 980-343-3239 
Principal: Merita Little
LC: Southwest
Bell Schedule: 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Grades: 6-8
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Fine Arts Department

Southwest Middle School Fine and Performing Arts Page


Welcome to the Southwest Middle School Fine and Performing Arts Page!  Below, you will find a list of our course offerings, descriptions of our programs, links to program websites, as well as brief bio and contact information for our instructors.  Thank your for visiting our page.  See you in class!


Southwest Middle School Orchestra


The Southwest Middle School Orchestra program SW Orchestra has worked hard to maintain as one of the best Orchestra programs in the state, earning Superior ratings and 1st Place Orchestra at almost every single state, local, and national adjudication or contest performance for a decade.  The Orchestra had the honor and privilege of being invited to perform at the 2017 North Carolina Music Educators Association Annual In-Service Conference--the highest honor any program in North Carolina can receive.


Orchestra is a cumulative course at Southwest, meaning, students must start in 6th grade in order to participate in future grades.  Curriculum and instruction is all crafted towards getting students prepared to continue instrumental music in high school and beyond, whether that means playing in college or university, or continuing to perform through community performance.  6th Grade is focused on learning the basics of music-making, from reading music to actually holding, caring for, and playing the instrument.  7th and 8th Grade provides more opportunity for competition, community performances, and group field trips.  Orchestra takes hard work and dedication, but it is also a LOT of fun!  We have Southwest Orchestra alumni who have gone on to study music in college, as well as students who continue to play in community groups just because music becomes such a big part of their lives-we’re super proud of that!


Southwest Orchestra is taught by Ms. Kristen Wright.  Ms. Wright earned her Bachelor of Science in Education from Western Carolina University, her Master’s in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is a National Board Certified Teacher.  She is an active bassoonist, both performing in local groups and maintains a private studio for bassoon students.  Aside from her music activities, she loves traveling the world (so far, South Korea, Japan, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Iceland, Spain, France, and Austria), reading (The Lord of the Rings is the BEST BOOK EVER!), playing video games (mostly console gaming), and her kitties Butters and Remington.


You may contact Ms. Wright at kristene.wright@cms.k12.nc.us or check out the SWMS Orchestra website at https://kristenewright.wixsite.com/swmsorchestra.  See you in the Orchestra Room!


Southwest Middle School Chorus


This year, Southwest Middle School will begin building a new Chorus Program.  Currently chorus will be offered on a semester basis, but students are encouraged to stay in chorus throughout their tenure at Southwest Middle School. Choirs from Southwest Middle School will regularly participate in school-based concerts and events.  District-wide, choirs will participate in CMS Honors Chorus and MPA (Music Performance Adjudication—a chance for the students and director to receive feedback on performance and musicality). Statewide, students will be encouraged to audition for NC Honors Chorus, where selected students will be able to perform with other students from all around the state of North Carolina.  These are the standard events that happen most often, but other events will be sprinkled throughout the year as well. 


Though students are free to join chorus in any semester and/or any year, it is recommended that students start in 6th grade and stay in the program for the duration of their time at Southwest Middle School.  This will provide students with the opportunity to learn cumulatively.  Some of the foundations students will learn about in 6th grade include: proper vocal/singing posture and technique, music theory (how to read, write, and compose music), music history, performance etiquette, and appropriate rehearsal behavior. As students move through the choral program in 7th and 8th grade, these skills will be deepened and refined. By the time students graduate from 8th grade, they will be ready to participate in chorus at the high school level. 


Chorus at Southwest Middle school is taught by Ms. Kelly Potts.   Ms. Potts earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with an emphasis on Choral Conducting. She also holds a Minor in Piano Performance from East Carolina University. Ms. Potts has worked with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Cabarrus County Schools, having taught music and chorus at all grade levels (elementary, middle, and high school).  She has also been the Director of Children’s Choirs and Section Leader at First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte since 2013. Ms. Potts is an active singer/soloist in the Charlotte region and sings professionally in the choir, VOX, led by David Tang. Her favorite career highlights have been singing on stage in concert with Kristen Chenoweth in 2018 and Andrea Bocelli two times (most recently in February of 2020).  In her free time, Ms. Potts enjoys training and spending time with her dog, Sasha (a Boxer/German Shepherd), reading books, and spending time with family



You may contact Ms. Potts at kellya.potts@cms.k12.nc.us. Stay tuned for website/social media accounts where you can find more information. Welcome to the Southwest Middle School Chorus Family :)



Southwest Middle School Dance


The Southwest Middle School Dance program SW is designed to cover the NC State Standards while connecting each student to the importance of Arts and the study of Humanities for our children. Dance is a studied technique which requires devotion in practice and dedication to the learning of techniques to achieve a performance level. Those students who are passionate about learning the discipline of Dance are encouraged to speak with me regarding auditioning for our Dance Team. Dance Team is a separate before and after school club which meets to perfect and then perform throughout the Charlotte for many different groups and community organizations.


Dance class is a cumulative course at Southwest with the idea that students will start in 6th grade in order to participate in future grades.  Curriculum and instruction is designed in a way to connect dance to their lives. The student does not need to know how to dance to be involved in this class. Each student will eventually physically involve themself in basic movement to understand basic coordination and how the skeletal and muscular systems operate our bodies. They discover how basic human movement evolved into the known techniques of dance and is manipulated through the creativity of the choreographer and dancer. The students also connect to the diversity of culture through dance, discovering their own through the research of their family and witnessing the conversations from their classmates' discoveries. As they progress through the 3 years, the students will dive deeper into the history of dance and how it is connected to social needs, human contact and interactions through the study of social dance. Lastly the student will connect to the power of communication through the movement of dance and how feelings, thoughts and ideas can be expressed through the body. The success of the class is based on the willingness of the students to achieve, create and grow.

Southwest Dance classes are taught by Ms. Corinne Chiusano.  Ms. C’ earned her Associates of Art in Theater from Bergen Community College; Bachelor of Art in Dance from Saint Leo University, Education Degree from UNCC. Her early training credits teachers, such as Luigi, Phil Black, Diane Diana, Edward Vilella and Iren Folkine and performed with a traveling children's Dance Company until the end of High School. She has taught dance publicly for 45 years to children and adults. Her secret passion was to be Mickey Mouse but she did have creative opportunities to perform with Nickelodeon as many of their characters in shows and parades. She has also choreographed for many theater groups throughout her career including Rock Hill Community Theater.


You may contact Ms. C’ at corinne.chiusano@cms.k12.nc.











Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
P.O. Box 30035
Charlotte, NC 28230-0035
Phone: 980-343-3000
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools website (www.cms.k12.nc.us) is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Any website accessibility concerns may be brought via the following, Email the Web Accessibility Team at WebAccessibility or Call: 980.343.0115. In compliance with Federal Law, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administers all education programs, employment activities and admissions without discrimination against any person on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Inquiries regarding compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities, may be referred to the District's Title IX Coordinator at titleixcoordinator or to the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education.