A Second Grader Living Out Her Dream

Emma Angstadt is full of dreams. She wants to be a firefighter, a police girl, a broker, or a teaching doctor. But the one she is already living out is the one most would call too impossible to ever reach—a movie actor.

In her movie debut, Emma Angstadt, a second grader at Fredericksburg Christian School, found herself two trailers down from Robert De Niro, with her movie name on the door and a principal role in the movie, The Intern. Playing the best friend of a key character in the movie, Emma got her first taste of movie making. The young girl describes the experience as both “cool and hot.”  The “hot” part owes to the set; the production was filmed in Brooklyn during the middle of the summer, with everyone wearing fall costumes.


Emma and Robert De Niro on the set of The Intern

Being on location in Brooklyn was a far cry from her daily routines, which include chores, homework, and time around the family dinner table. “Eating together as a family is a priority for us as a family,” shares Kris Angstadt, Emma’s father.

When Emma is not at school, some of her favorite things to do include archery and exploring in the woods. Having someone tend to your needs while in your own cast trailer was a new experience, but none of this has phased Emma.

The Angstadt family has worked to ensure that this adventure truly belongs to Emma. They don’t play the role of stage parents, and make sure that Emma stands on her own in taking instructions from the director. Each audition requires that Emma enter and respond alone. Her parents view all of these experiences as part of Emma’s growth; Kris and Alicia support her without hovering or micromanaging what happens. Kris says, “This is her adventure, and we’re here to support without controlling. If Emma decides that she wants to pursue something else, we will support that too.”

The FCS Experience

Emma is loving second grade at Fredericksburg Christian School, and FCS is a part of Emma’s family too. In her latest round of auditions, her second grade teacher made sure that she and the class had the details, so that they could pray for Emma during her audition. Alicia appreciates the structure that FCS brings, and likes the fact that a dress code is part of school life. She loves the fact that, “Emma comes home singing Bible verses, and she knows the Ten Commandments.”

As Kris and Alicia Angstadt observed the trends around them in education, they chose FCS because they didn’t want their children to have an educational experience where teachers and parents turn a blind eye to what is going on, but rather step in as a community to help shape the character and behavior of children.

The Angstadts’ see FCS as an important part of their children’s foundation, preparing them for high school and beyond.  Kris is an alumni, and Emma’s aunt was part of the very first FCS graduating class. Her older sister Lauren tried out public school for two years, but is glad to be back at FCS in the upper school. From their perspective, “FCS trains you to do the right thing.” They see faith at FCS as not just an academic pursuit, but something children learn to live out through a shared experience and the first-rate example set by teachers and staff. Kris made life long friends while he was at FCS, and they want the same for Emma.

In their words, “FCS is a place where children and families can know and be known, and parents are engaged in the development of their children.”

You might wonder, how does school fit in with a busy life of auditions and movies? It requires a significant investment of time and effort from the extended family. A call for an audition in New York can come any time, requiring travel on very short notice. The family pulls together to help fill in for the additional work that is created by travel, and the demands of a budding acting career. When asked what she misses the most when gone for acting opportunities, Emma replies, “my friends.”

First Opportunity – Feature Film

Emma Angstadt in "hair and make-up" on the set of The Intern

Emma in “hair and make-up” on the set of The Intern

Emma’s dream of being a movie star began as she demonstrated a flair for the dramatic throughout her childhood. Family and friends noticed how comfortable she was being in front of a crowd, and Emma expressed interest in being on T.V. Alicia took the opportunity with a talent scouting firm that held an event locally. Emma had to complete some training before attending a showcase in Florida with hundreds of other children. She received seven call-backs after the showcase, far more than most children receive at this stage in their acting careers. As a result, a choice had to be made about an agent, and one in New York was selected.

It was something of a surprise to the family and their agent when her first acting role came in a feature film, alongside the credits with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. For Emma, auditions have been fun too, ranging from commercials for peanut butter and vitamins, as well as another film opportunity with Will Farrell. Emma enjoys the “silly things” that they ask her to say in the auditions. She will be featured on the cover of her acting school’s magazine this year, and at a national event in Florida, where Emma will share with other children about her adventure.

A Fantastic Foundation

The impact of a strong family life and the input of FCS is obvious in Emma’s life. One way her parents see the difference is in her mental attitude. While many children come out of their auditions downcast, Emma’s consistent reply is, “I did fantastic!” Kris and Alicia credit FCS for this kind of confidence, and believe that the school is helping her to develop a positive and courageous outlook on life.

As a family, the Angstadts are thankful and realistic about what all of this means for Emma. They’re ensuring that she experiences her childhood in the context of a loving and hardworking family. FCS is an important part of helping Emma to develop as a confident and anchored young person, and the Angstadt’s wouldn’t have it any other way.

Education and The Arts

We place a high priority on the arts as an integrated part of our approach to learning.

There have been many studies performed that demonstrate the benefits for students who participate in any type of arts program, whether it’s music, art, or drama.

In a report published by the Centre for Educational Research & Innovation in 2013, entitled Arts for Art’s Sake? The Impact of Arts Education, arts education is shown to be a means of developing both creative and critical thinking. It has also been shown to enhance a student’s performance in non-arts academic subjects, including mathematics, science, reading, and writing, and can even strengthen students’ academic motivation, self-confidence, and ability to communicate and co-operate effectively.

In a similar study done by the Guggenheim titled The Art of Problem Solving, over 400 fifth graders in New York City were carefully studied and evaluated through a two-year program called Learning Through Art. Through a careful evaluation of students from various schools who did and did not participate in the program, the Guggenheim was able to conclude that artistic studies have a profound effect on the problem-solving skills of young students. The results of the Art of Problem Solving found that students in the program performed better in six categories of literacy and critical-thinking skills—including thorough description, hypothesizing and reasoning—than did the students who were not in the program.

Fredericksburg Christian School continues to emphasize the value of the arts—an advantage FCS has over other schools who can no longer afford to offer these important programs to their students.

Music (band, orchestra, and choir), drama, and the visual arts are all part of FCS’s Fine Arts Department. Their approach goes beyond an academic emphasis.  “Creativity comes from our Creator” is their motto. They choose to incorporate the spiritual aspects of the arts and honor God in all they do—including the arts.