On a sunny Friday afternoon Luna Milly oversees a small work crew as they hang her paintings at The Loft Gallery on Fort Street.
The 16-year-old is preparing for her first solo show, set to start in a few hours.
Another circumstance that sets her apart from the majority of kids her age: Milly doesn’t go to school on Fridays. It’s one of the perks she takes advantage of as a student at the Individual Learning Centre in Broadmead, which has afforded her enough flexibility to pursue her aspirations as an artist while also working toward her Dogwood graduation certificate.
The ILC is a personalized high school alternative for anyone 14 years or older needing to take Grade 9 to 12 courses – for graduation, college prep, or in preparation to reintegrate into neighbourhood schools. The courses follow Ministry of Education guidelines and are free to all students registered at the school.
“The teachers there treat you like you’re your own person, not just one of a thousand other kids,” Milly said. “They take an interest in what you have going on in your life. Even just the fact that you call them by their first names – it’s more personal.”
Milly has been able to focus on honing her craft with acrylics for the last three years – something she says wouldn’t have been possible for her, had she stayed in mainstream school. The ILC has two locations in the Saanich School District, including one in Saanichton, where students are required to attend class for a minimum of 10 hours per week.
“Most of my growth has happened because I had so much support at school,” said Milly, who is now commissioning her work and was recently signed to Urban-Muse.com, a California-based artist collective.
Milly’s mother, Stella Daniels, was initially reluctant to move Milly to the ILC. She has since embraced the school.
“I’m amazed at the fast progress that’s she’s making,” said Daniels. “She’s putting in a lot of time and a lot of work. It’s paying off for her and it seems to be hitting a chord with people.”
Milly will take advantage of the ILC’s partnership with Camosun College by studying health care and earning her final credits toward graduation this fall. It’s a plan that still allows the teen to pursue her art as a side job, she said.
Milly’s work can be viewed from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. at The Loft Gallery, 819 Fort St., until June 21.