It’s been a while since I really sat down, though long and hard, and cranked out a blog post. And today… yeah I’m not doing that. But with my recent experience with Summer Stock Austin (including an *ahem* guest starring role in Guys and Dolls last week), I got extremely nostalgic for the high school theatre days. I also thought back to when I wrote my college admittance essay on the importance of keeping fine arts in schools- and decided to dig it up and give it a second life here.
Over 5 years, an entire college education, and a real-world job later, theatre has been and is still one of the biggest influences in my life. I still get giddy at the thought of seeing a new Broadway show (NYC-I’ll see you in October!), jam out to soundtracks I’ve played over and over again in the car, geek out whenever I’m around anyone remotely interested in theatre, and yes- had more fun than I could imagine running social media for and hanging out with Summer Stock Austin all month long. Enjoy peering into High School Wendi’s brain for a few minutes.
Recently, the Texas Association of School Boards proposed a Uniform Grade Point Average law for all Texas public high schools. Aside from the grade point average calculation, many have speculated that fine arts classes amongst high schools will soon not be required for graduation. As an active and zealous theatre arts student and performer, the fine arts classes for teenagers prove extremely beneficial and important to me. The need for required fine arts credits in the areas of music (i.e. band and orchestra) and performing arts (i.e. theatre and dance) proves necessary in befitting the next generation of businessmen, politicians, doctors, and educators.
As a passionate and dedicated thespian, the importance of fine arts remains extremely close to my heart and immeasurably important. Theatre arts has constantly surrounded my life, from the frequent rehearsals after school almost everyday, to the exciting Broadway shows I constantly love to enjoy live on stage, none of which would exist for me if fine arts hasn’t existed in my high school. The presence of fine arts allows several students who otherwise would fail to emerge in extracurricular activates to become involved in school, make friends, gain a sense of school spirit, and grow as a person through the constant interaction with others, internal struggles and challenges, and a new and emerged high self confidence resulting from performances onstage. Personally, I have witnessed the impact a successful and welcoming thespian troupe has on many students. Theatre, as well as numerous other fine arts programs, welcome students unconditionally and allow involvement without the use of a grueling, stressful audition or tryout. In the majority of sports programs, a tryout decides whether or not a student may participate. However, within theatre, positions are available for all whether or not one merely becomes cast in the production. Many who fear performing in itself are welcomed as stagehands where they can constantly improve their craft alongside their friends and the aid of dedicated and intelligent sponsors who applaud all dedication. Additionally, students with a drive to perform onstage and grow as an actor, actress, or singer become exposed to countless plays, musicals, and performance opportunities where self-esteem, confidence, and communication skills are nurtured and encouraged to grow.
Void of the fine arts requirement, fine arts classes run the risk of losing funding and retention. Students who have an unknown love for performing may never realize their passion, and the next potential Tony, Grammy, or Academy Award Winner may fail to explore and develop their enthusiasm. In addition, students with shy or quiet personalities fail to emerge not as performers, but mere communicators. Through exercises and performances experienced within fine arts classes, countless students learn to communicate effectively with others, an extremely useful and practical tool for today’s society. Necessary to grow in career, as well as a student and person, communication skills develop within a person’s teen years, more specifically, high school, and the process becomes improved and quickened through the experience of a fine arts class where speaking, performing, and possessing a positive attitude in front of an audience becomes exceptionally important. The presence of a fine arts class encourages students to grow and become extremely comfortable with themselves and their personality and body, a factor that can even influence and decrease peer pressure, which fails when students possess confidence in themselves.
Though the fine arts classes currently remain required, speculation of removing the program has been spoken about, and it must be stressed that fine arts classes remain extremely and immeasurable important to the students and generations to come. Theatre has impacted my life in ways I never thought possible, and is an art I will continue to treasure for the rest of my life. Depriving children the chance to know themselves better and share themselves onstage with the world remains unthinkable. School boards and students must fight for the existence of the extremely important and treasured fine arts program, perhaps the most imperative and essential program within any high school. There is more to life than facts and figures, there is also expression, and fine arts allow students to express themselves in invaluable ways.
So- High School Wendi, don’t worry… you did good.