The Aiken Community Playhouse’s youth wing program is getting ready to start its 2012-13 season.

The core offering, consisting of the monthly workshops provided to students free of charge, focuses on everything from the fundamentals of acting to vocal production, movement, fencing and stage combat, and all technical aspects of theater. Because of the growing membership of the youth wing program and the increased demand for expanded student opportunities, the monthly youth wing workshops will be adding a fourth group to this year’s line-up. For the first time, fourth- and fifth-grade students will have the opportunity to join the monthly workshops as part of the newly formed “Bowman Group.” Sixth- and seventh-grade students will continue to make up the “Silverberg Group,” eighth-, ninth- and 10th-grade students will form the “Dean Group,” while 11th- and 12th-grade students will comprise the “Cole Group.” Students are challenged with more advanced curriculum as they advance through the different groups and have the opportunity to learn from a team of highly dedicated directors and mentors.

The Youth Wing 1 program, consisting of the Bowman and Silverberg groups, will meet the second Saturday of each month from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. The Youth Wing 2 program, consisting of the Dean and Cole groups, will meet from 1 to 3:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month.

Last year, the program introduced the Youth Wing Company, consisting of advanced members of the YouthWing program who successfully auditioned for one of the 12 company positions. This coming season, the group will expand to 16 members, and auditions will be held at 1 p.m. on Aug. 18 at the URS Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to the monthly workshops, Youth Wing members will have the opportunity to participate – based on individual event and production requirements – in public outreach programs, special community events, several ACP Youth Wing productions and professional-grade workshops offered by The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, The Julliard School, professional artists brought to Aiken through the Aiken Performing Arts Group and guest directors from USC in Columbia, USC Aiken and the community at large. The Youth Wing will also continue to expand the “Broadway Bound” program that offers select students the opportunity to travel to New York City for an annual Broadway student summit.

At the heart of the program lies the values that students are taught through their participation – teamwork, negotiation, honesty, character development, confidence, compassion, public speaking, freedom of movement, peer mentoring, trust and gratitude.

“Qualities that Fortune 500 companies pay ‘big money’ to teach their executives,” said Jim Anderson, the Youth Wing’s executive director.

Anderson, along with veteran Youth Wing director Nancy Gamba-Hansen, Jennifer Gibbons and Jamie Turner, provide the core instruction for the monthly program.

“We could not have the incredible program that exists today without the unbelievable support we receive from our board of directors and the unprecedented support from the community at large,” Anderson said. “It literally changes our children’s lives.”

Student in grades four through 12 are invited to come to the first meeting of the new season on Aug. 11.

An informational meeting for parents of both current and prospective members will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 5 at the URS Center for Performing Arts to discuss both the program and future possibilities.

“Aiken is so lucky to have a program such as this one in the community,” said Gray Johnson, a recent graduate and this past season’s Youth Wing president. “The Youth Wing provided me with best friends, wonderful mentors and a foundation for my years beyond the program. I hope Aiken will continue to support this worthwhile program that helps youth to succeed in and outside of the theater.”