Caitlin is a 17-year-old from Simsbury, CT. She likes to write, make things with clay, and really wants a dog. Her two favorite subjects are Art and English.
The popular television show, Glee, has brought the importance of the arts in schools and the issue of adequate funding to the attention of audiences everywhere. Never before has joining a school Glee Club been so popular, or simply showing appreciation for music by agreeing to help in the winter musical seemed so appealing. Glee has popularized participation in the arts.
But why is this important?
A school, first and foremost, is a place to learn. This learning, however, does not necessarily only have to take place in a classroom. Just as much learning is done inside an art studio, a band room, or on stage as is done sitting at a desk listening to a lecture. In art, a student can learn about the relationship between colors, about negative space versus positive space. A student can learn to express himself or herself in a more meaningful way and find an outlet for anger or sadness that may seem to overwhelm them during their high school years. I personally find art to be very therapeutic. Nothing calms me down and helps me to see things in a better light than does sculpting a piece of clay. Art is what helps me get through the day. Between hard classes and tests, I can control my stress level with the knowledge that soon I will be in art class.
The theater is another great place for students to stretch their comfort zones and learn more about themselves in turn. Students can gain confidence from performing, confidence that will extend far beyond the stage and their school careers. Whether it is a musical or a one-act play, it is important that a school supports these ventures. By exposing students to culture at a young age, they will attain a better appreciation for it. Both the actors and the students who come to support their friends in the various shows can learn from the theater. All plays contain a universal message, whether it is about the importance of love or the evils of greed. Sometimes, hearing these messages in the context of a play helps the message to hit home.
Music, I believe, is the central thread that ties a school together. Whether it is the marching band playing at the football games and pep rallies, or the orchestra supporting the musical, music provides energy and unity to the school. Being in a music ensemble requires teamwork as well as the willingness to work hard. A student cannot slack off and decide not to practice because then the whole ensemble will suffer. The interesting thing about music is that many different subjects are involved. Math is an essential skill. In order to play a piece, a student must count the rhythm and notice important patterns. History is also integral to the understanding of music. A student should know the famous musicians throughout history, as well as be able to differentiate between the baroque period and the classical period. Music is not just sitting down to play a line of notes, it is about understanding the history and meaning behind each stanza.
Arts provide an outlet for students to express a side of themselves that might get stifled in the classroom. It also enables them to meet new friends who share similar interests and goals. The arts are an essential component to every high school curriculum because they provide not only these things, but they also teach lessons and values that will last a lifetime.