East Middle School without the Arts

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East Middle School without the Arts

Photo Courtesy of: Mallory Swope

Photo Courtesy of: Mallory Swope

Photo Courtesy of: Mallory Swope

Photo Courtesy of: Mallory Swope

Mallory Swope, EMS Press Staff

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Imagine registering for classes without the options of choir or band or pottery or drawing. This disheartening thought has a chance, slim as it may be, of becoming a reality.

President Donald Trump made his disdain for the arts evident when he proposed eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts soon after his election. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, prefers to divert funding for the arts to vouchers for private schools.

A few years ago, Chicago Public Schools underwent a  budget cut, mainly affecting the art programs offered by the schools. Of the nearly 50 schools affected, 105 teachers majoring in art or music were laid off.

Michele Zebell has been teaching general music for around 30 years, choir specifically for around ten. She feels removing music from the curriculum would be a mistake.

“Students would miss out on the intrinsic opportunities offered by music classes, such as being a part of a team that is cared for and celebrated by everyone,” Zebell said. “It is a safe haven for people who may not have the emotional outlet that others do, and everyone feels important.”

Eighth grader Paco Haas has played percussion for the  Trojan Band since sixth grade.

“I look forward to going to band everyday, and I think that if it were gone, I’d be very disengaged with my other classes,” he said. “Band allows me to go to a completely different world where it’s just me and my music.”

Music is not a blow-off class either.

“Every new piece of music is a challenge,” says Zebell. “Choir is a way to push students outside of their comfort zone, and everyone has a football team sized support system.”

What some may not realize, is that art classes such as pottery, drawing, painting, animation and photography stimulate parts of the brain that are used in mathematics, history, and reading. As well as improving understanding, art can serve as a form of therapy for many personality disorders. Playing an instrument has been seen to do the same thing. Considering this, if the arts were to be eradicated from East, it would be justifiable for students to be much more than upset. Based on this information, scores on tests such as the NWEA and MSTEP would presumingly decrease.

According to Soma, the arts are just extremely helpful in a student’s success and learning. Both his wife and daughter are great artists which makes art very near and dear to his heart.

“Arts are academics. I once saw this bumper sticker on someone’s car. It said ‘Earth without art is just Eh’, and it meant a lot to me.”

But academics are not the only benefit of the arts.

“Unlike sports, music and art are much less publicly celebrated based on individual students’ performances,” Zebell said. “But being a part of the team means nobody sits on the bench. Each concert or showcase is a culminating light at the end of a long, dark tunnel to get to where they are now.”

Not to worry though.

“There is a very low probability of the arts being cut at TCAPS schools,” said Superintendent Paul Soma. “Unless there is a negative surprise from the state of Michigan, we will continue to protect our art and music programs.”

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