Art is essential to student success

Mariah+Wilson%2C+11th+grade%2C+creates+bird+sculptures+out+of+wire+and+soda+cans.%0A%0APhoto+Courtesy+of+Rachel+Cleveland%2C+12th+grade.
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Art is essential to student success

Mariah Wilson, 11th grade, creates bird sculptures out of wire and soda cans.

Photo Courtesy of Rachel Cleveland, 12th grade.

Mariah Wilson, 11th grade, creates bird sculptures out of wire and soda cans. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Cleveland, 12th grade.

Mariah Wilson, 11th grade, creates bird sculptures out of wire and soda cans. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Cleveland, 12th grade.

Mariah Wilson, 11th grade, creates bird sculptures out of wire and soda cans. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Cleveland, 12th grade.

by Izzy Peterson and Hannah Jaffe

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All around the country, arts programs have been decreasing due to budget cuts. This crisis began when the Recession hit in 2007 and continues today. Although art programs have not yet been cut in Frederick County, there are instances where art programs have been limited.

Creative classes like art, theater, and band are getting cut the most because they aren’t related to the new Core Curriculum or testing. Art isn’t the only subject vulnerable to these cuts. Gym classes and extracurricular activities can be threatened as well. “Gym isn’t getting cut due to health concerns which is why art is a primary subject you can cut,” said Christian Madenspacher, ceramics and art teacher.

In Pennsylvania, school systems cut all art programs for grades kindergarten through fifth. Madenspacher was working in Pennsylvania when this occurred. Since his wife is an elementary school art teacher, he said “it really hit home.” While some people believe elementary school art classes are just fillers to keep children entertained, Madenspacher said that “they emphasize the elements and principles; it’s not just childish art. Art is fundamental to our society.”

Dance and drama teacher Julian Lazarus believes that art is essential for the cognitive development in one’s brain. “What’s important is that both sides of the brain are being used,” said Lazarus. According to Americans for the Arts, studies have shown that an interest in the arts leads to a rise in motivation and increased productivity and attention. Reading music and learning lines have been shown to improve memorization skills, both short and long-term. Art programs also teach self-evaluation.

Niki Konkel bird sculptures

Niki Konkel, 12th grade, creates bird sculptures out of wire.
Photo Courtesy of Rachel Cleveland, 12th grade.

“Mainstream education is letting you down,” said Lazarus. “There needs to be art integration in your studies.”

Nowadays, the academic world revolves around test scores. Schools are evaluated on a series of data points – so are students. “It’s not so much that the arts are ignored. The issues arrive where testing comes in,” said Lazarus. “You can’t do a standardized test for the arts.”

“I wouldn’t say people underappreciate the arts; they just don’t realize the value of arts in our culture,” said Principal David Kehne.

With the emphasis on advanced placement, fewer students are signing up for arts classes. Without enough students signing up for art classes, principals and other decision-makers have to make difficult staffing choices.

“For centuries, cultures have been judged by the art and stories they have left behind,” said Lazarus. Without art we wouldn’t have millions of job opportunities or the advancement of technology we have today.

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