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One Blue Nation – Students reached through fine arts (Dec. 24, 2014 issue)

In any school there are various activities that attract students and help make school more meaningful. Many times it is sports, or a club, or even a class or academic group.
Students need to be attached to something. This creates a greater sense of purpose in students and develops new interests in the students. At UCHS we have many opportunities, maybe not as many as we want yet, but we have many places kids can “plug in” so to speak.
One of the best places we have is in the fine arts realm. For us this includes drama, band, chorus, art, and even to some extent our bluegrass band (BGB). Each of these provides students new opportunities to showcase their talents as well as be involved in meaningful work.
I know many people in the community have been to a band concert, a drama production, or have seen the BGB perform somewhere. But how many people really stop and think about the impact these activities have on the students?
According to a Harris Poll reported by artusa.com, 93 percent of Americans believe the arts are vital to providing a well rounded education. According to the NASAA report entitled, “Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement”, research has shown that what students learn in the arts can help them to master subjects such as reading, math or social studies. Further, the report gave results from a study conducted by UCLA researchers looking at over 25,000 middle and high school students. This study found students with high arts involvement performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with low arts involvement.
I could go on for quite a while discussing the positive impacts of the arts on students’ education. There is research to support the fact that learning to play an instrument helps with math readiness. Drama helps students to learn to comprehend and read. Doing artwork boosts the creative areas of the brain to help students find creative ways to solve problems. There are so many benefits to the arts that they are really too numerous to list in this article. Unfortunately not enough students take advantage of the opportunities available in these areas.
At UCHS we have a proud tradition of the fine arts that has made an impact on our school and our community. The purpose of this article is to call attention once again to our fine arts offerings and programs to encourage parents to encourage their children to participate. These programs are successful in our school.
Anyone who has seen a program from our students involved in a fine arts genre can attest to how hard our students work and how well they perform. We also have hard-working, dedicated staff who teach these courses. The time spent on these programs is many times much more than just a normal school day. Prep time, rehearsals, performances, travel time and other requirements take these folks away from their families far too often.
Of our programs the longest running has to be our band and visual art classes. The UCHS band has long been a staple not only of our high school but our community. Friday night football games are just one piece of what they do over the course of the year. Concerts, parades, and now our new pep band at basketball games all make up the year. Our band is small right now, but Mrs. Hurter and her staff are growing the band with the help of our middle school. In the coming years you will see tremendous growth.
Art classes have been around for quite a while in our school as well. I can’t tell you how many incredible artists have come through our school. Including our art teacher Mrs. Tipton, a proud UCHS alum. It isn’t just drawing, clay and design work are part of the program as well. Students truly have the opportunity to express themselves creatively through the art in our school.
Our drama program is known for producing excellent programs. Mrs. Wright has brought so many productions to life it is incredible. The students flock to this program and learn so much from it as they grow. To watch the hidden talent come out in some of our students is amazing.
Finally one of our newest programs is our chorus. Mrs. Boone came to our school last year and took the challenge I gave her to create a chorus program from scratch. We have now had several successful programs, concerts and performances. We have roughly 20 students participating in the program. This is tremendous for such a new program for our school.
So as you can see, the fine arts programs at UCHS are thriving. We encourage you to look for opportunities to come and see some of the performances.
But even more than that, if you are a parent, encourage your child to get involved in a fine arts opportunity. The programs are extremely beneficial to their growth, both academically and socially.
Our kids need something to be attached to in their lives. The TV, cellphone, or Xbox don’t count in that statement. If your child is attached to some type of program in school I guarantee you they will have a better chance of staying out of trouble, being happier, and being more successful in their academics. Give fine arts a try, it will be well worth it.