Art Matters

An in-depth look at the importance of fine arts in education, BV's art department

Fine Arts Education

When you think of school, typically the math and science classes come to mind first as the most important classes. While these are important, they are not the only classes that matter — especially in the long run. Fine arts in education, or education based on a well-rounded curriculum as opposed to just a math and science, is important to the overall quality of life of a student.

Junior Madeline O’Donnell participates in Chamber Singers and Chorale, which involve dancing and singing. She participates in classes in school, but also spends time working on them outside of school. O’Donnell, who plans on dancing as a career, said she spends a lot of time practicing her craft outside of school, but she still wishes she could take more during the school day.

“Participating in an arts class can challenge you in different ways than a normal class would,” O’Donnell said. “It gives students a break from core classes throughout the day. Art is important because it allows people to express themselves and brings people together.”

Junior Hampton Williams believes fine arts classes are an important part of every student’s’ day.

According to edutopia.org, “years of research show that [fine art] education is closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

Junior Hampton Williams believes fine arts is essential to every student’s time in high school. She plans on going to the University of Kansas to study industrial design, or furniture design, as a career.

“Arts in the education system allow for kids to express themselves,” She said. “It is also important for kids to connect what is being taught in the classroom to what is expressed in art.”

Blue Valley and Fine Arts Education

Mark Mosier, one of Blue Valley’s fine art educators, believes Blue Valley’s art teachers provide a great learning atmosphere for kids interested in fine arts and for those who are just taking the class for the credits. He also said that his goal is to make sure every student has the best experience they can in BV’s art department.

“We are all very interested in supporting students and helping students succeed,” Mosier said. “All of us [teachers] look for ways to help students in the ways that we know will help them — even though not everybody recognizes that.”

Blue Valley’s curriculum promotes a fine arts education by requiring fine arts credits in order to graduate. Students are encouraged to take art classes and for some of them, it has been an eye opening experience. O’Donnell said she is very passionate about dancing and singing and she wishes Blue Valley allowed students to tailor their credits around what they want to do as a career.

“I always wish I could take more fine arts classes,” O’Donnell said. “If I could take only dance and singing classes all day, I would. I can’t wait to be able to do that in college.”

O’Donnell said she loves incorporating the arts into her school schedule because she loves what she does. She also said she thinks more students should participate in fine arts classes during their time at Blue Valley.

“It is really nice to have [fine arts] classes throughout the day to do something I love to do,” O’Donnell said. “If I didn’t participate in so much outside of school, I would definitely not be happy without those art classes. Many kids don’t participate in something involving the arts outside of class and only participate through school. I think the fine arts help your learning abilities in other classes — they should never be taken away.”

Blue Valley student Kelly Wood says she has a passion for art — specifically film — that will last her a lifetime.

“I enjoy art classes,” She said. “They are important to me.”

Fine Arts After High School

Good teachers can make or break a student’s educational career, especially in fine arts because kids already tend to write these classes off as filler courses, or classes they just need to pass to graduate. Mosier said fine arts classes tend to be considered unimportant in high school and society.

“Sometimes we have to be advocates within our own school,” He said. “Not that anybody is against the arts, it’s just that it’s not the first thing that people think about because it’s not reported as an achievement test — it’s not reported as a state assessment.”

The students who love fine arts usually have had a teacher who really inspired them. Junior Kelly Wood participates in many different fine arts classes, such as ceramics and photography.

“The teacher that has had the most impact on my career as an artist is Mr. Johnston,” Wood said. “He doesn’t care what you do at all but will help you if you ask for it. Hands off is the way to go.”

Junior Madeline O’Donnell has had a great experience with her Chambers Singers and Chorale teacher Mrs. Moeller as well. She said she has been great to work with so far, and they have built a great amount of trust. O’Donnell says working with her has been a memorable experience.

“She has been so good to me and has really helped me develop my singing abilities and leadership skills,” O’Donnell said. “I have been her dance captain of the Chamber choir for the past two years and have really been honored that she has placed her trust in me. She is such a strong and wise individual who is truly in love with the arts, and her passion makes it so easy to come to class and rehearsals every day.”

Without certain teachers, some BV students would not have given fine arts a chance. Mosier said the fine arts teachers at Blue Valley care a lot about the success of their students.

“Being a teacher is not about making widgets or company profit, bottom line,” He said. “In a business, your success is to make a ton of money and in education, you’re successful if your students are successful. If they’re successful, I’m successful and that’s the way we get there.”

Blue Valley’s Fine Arts Teachers

Most people believe that a career in fine arts is financial suicide. Parents dread the idea of their child pursuing photography, painting, or even graphic design as a career because of the preconceived notions on how difficult it is to make it as an artist in today’s society.

Blue Valley’s students are challenging that notion.

“I plan on dancing and majoring in dance in college,” O’Donnell said. “I train about 25+ hours a week at Le Dance Studio and I am in a contemporary company here in Kansas City. I travel to different competitions, conventions, and intensives throughout the year to gain more knowledge about my chosen career path and take classes from those that have become successful in that field of work.”

For those who do choose to pursue a career in fine arts, there is a lot of work they must put into their art form in order to even consider doing it professionally. Society holds artists to a higher standard — a lot of the success of an artist comes from society’s opinions of their work. O’Donnell says she is very passionate about pursuing a career in fine arts, and her dedication to dance is going to help her be successful.

“Song and dance are very powerful art forms,” She said. “Using them gives me the ability to affect people in ways that I couldn’t with anything else.”

Wood is excited about her future in film and believes that a well-rounded art background will help her as a film student. She plans to go to college for film and that by taking classes other than film, she hopes to be well-rounded in fine arts in general.

“The possibilities are endless when it comes to film,” She said. “I can use all my skills rather than just my drawing, sculpting, and writing skills. I plan on using my creativity after high school by going to art school and then later going into the film industry so I have the most broad art influence. You are not limited to one medium — you can make films about whatever you want. I could make a documentary about surfing and the next write a film about a butcher and the next film could be about cooking.”