Thursday, January 14, 2010

Art in Education

When I was in Elementary School I remember always seeing the ads on TV for “Save the Music”. Musicians and artists would come on TV for PSAs talking about schools cutting music programs due to costs and such. I never really knew what they were talking about because my elementary and middle schools all had very strong music programs that I was very much involved in. When I went to High School it was another story. I went to the North East School of the Arts (NESA) at Robert E. Lee (I also went to ISA but that’s another story). At NESA I was a musical theatre major in a class of 17. From the start of the program we were trained by amazing teachers. Mrs. Bianco, our voice teacher, was an amazing performer and great teacher, she helped all of us find things in our voices that weren’t there before NESA. Ms. Starnes our dance teacher and later Ms. Mabry pushed lots of us to our dancing breaking point leaving all of us sore in places were weren’t being sore in “My body doesn’t bend that Ms. Starnes”. Mr. Connelly our acting teacher put us through the most amazing acting exercises that made us an extremely close knit class. All throughout NESA these 17 classmates were my best friend and all of that is because of Mr. Connelly, he made us best friends, people we relied on and needed to be with. I’ve never experienced anything like it before then or since then. We were able to work on our craft everyday for HOURS and it never felt like work because it was what we all loved and enjoyed. When we did shows, sometimes we were at school from 7 AM till 11 PM. We’d be exhausted but we’d always show up the next day. This of course instilled in us a great work ethic. Musical Theatre was everything but we still had to do well in our academic classes to stay in the program. Musical Theatre was almost like the reward for going to High School. Well as I’m sure some of y’all have heard, yesterday there was an announcement that NESA may be a casualty of the NEISD budget crisis. Dr. Middleton (NEISD Superintendent) is considering either laying off some of the teachers or cutting the entire program. The average High School student costs the district $6,500 a year while a NESA student costs about $8,000. But look what you get out of it. Dr. York notes that 99% of NESA student go to college and last year alone NESA students received over $10 million in college scholarships. NESA students do better academically and on standardized tests too. The idea that NESA may not be around next year is heartbreaking. I know that NESA made up such a huge part of who I am and has influenced and effected my entire life. If it wasn’t for NESA I wouldn’t have learned about ISA (my other magnet school) and I wouldn’t have graduated in the top 5% of my class, allowing me to get amazing scholarships, that allowed me to go to an amazing private university. I owe so much to NESA. I had some amazing life experiences there too. I just am so sad. My little sister Grace is there now and I just can’t imagine making all those students in their first few years of High School go back to their districts and their own high schools. If you want more information or want to join a Facebook group about it please see the following links:


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