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Independence career academy capitalizing on family history to hopefully inspire the next Walt Disney

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- The newest career academy in the Independence School District is hoping to inspire the next Walt Disney.

District leaders are capitalizing on some family connections to Disney to make that dream a reality.

“This property holds a special place because of its history,” said A. Scott Cauger, the owner of Englewood Row Gallery and Art Space.

Cauger is opening up space in his gallery for high school students hoping for a career in the arts.

“Students learn how to do openings and closings, exhibitions, install and de-install,” Cauger explained.

Back in the 1920’s, the gallery building housed a film production company that hired a young artist named Walt Disney. Cauger’s grandfather was the one who hired the famous animator.

“This building was the venue where the film production company who gave Walt Disney his first job in the movies,” Cauger said.

Now, the building is focusing on the future, giving high school students first-hand experience in the professional art world.

“Students learn about gallery operations, learn about the business and administration of a gallery,” Cauger said, "and, at the same time, tutor under professional artists.”

Aspiring artists, like student Chandra Villalobos, say the experience is exhilarating.

“I had to make it work because it was just an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Villalobos said. “Just being able to have this opportunity as a high-schooler is really amazing, I was really excited about it.”