Part of my job at the Springer is serving as editor of “The Callboard.” “The Callboard” is a news publication that we are working on getting out to the high schools here in the Columbus area. Our goal is to becomes the information hub for high schools in the southeast. However, we are starting out pretty small. In each issue we will highlight at least one school and have a calender of all upcoming productions from each school. Also, we will include a list of suggested books and movies, advice from the professionals at the Springer, letters to the editor, etc. We are very excited about this venture and what it can become.
One of the stories that I have been working on for our first issue has to do with obstacles within the schools, especially when it comes to the theater departments. All schools have obstacles of some kind, some more than others, and it seems that the Arts programs suffer the most. In an interesting conversation with a South Columbus teacher, the educator remarked that it was often her class that kids were pulled in order to prepare them for the graduation exam that is required to exit high school. I think that there are several interesting ideas behind this comment. One being the fact that it is necessary to prepare these kids specifically for the graduation test. Another being that these students are pulled from arts classes. Theatre, band, visual art, etc. I am going to have to address these issues separately. I am going to start with the latter.
According to school boards and administrations across the country, theater, visual arts, band, and other Art forms have no place in the public school forum. These classes are the first to have their budgets cut and the first departments to be cut out altogether. In fact, the arts are sooner dropped than any athletic program. Why is it that these classes are considered expendable? A child’s education consists of subjects such as math, science, English, and social sciences, as well as other subjects. There are no options given to students as to whether or not they want to take these courses. However when it comes to the arts, these courses are seen as electives and may be taken or not taken depending on the child. Why is it that we believe that math, science, history, etc, should be required and the arts can be pushed to the wayside?
I believe that Arts Education is vital to a well rounded education because of what the arts encourage and provide in a child’s life. As a student of music and theatre, I appreciate what the arts have done for me as a person. The arts provided a healthy and safe environment for me to grow as not only an actor and musician, but as a person. I learned how to speak in front of people of all ages with ease and comfort; I learned how to experiment with various methods of presentation without fear of failing; I became comfortable making bold choices; and I was afforded opportunities to learn how to lead and follow effectively in a group. I speak from experience when I say that children who experience the arts are better equipped to become the future leaders that our communities and our world so desperately need. Team work, discipline, commitment, and confidence are all a part of an arts education and are qualities that I do not think we can afford to exclude from any child’s educational experience.