George Lucas Educational Foundation

The Arts: Symptoms of Success

The Arts: Symptoms of Success

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Here's a question that some of you may be interested in exploring. What are some of the "symptoms" (I like this term better than "indicators" that you are finding in your school or in your community that the arts is important, or is gaining importance? What sounds, sights, smells would we experience when we step into your school or classroom that might indicate a(n) healthy arts life? Take us on a sensual journey! stephen

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Gina Harrison's picture
Gina Harrison
president, NHS Arts Education Foundation

In our community, we're very fortunate to be in a newly renovated ($4.5 million) arts wing at our school--part of the first significant work on the physical plant of this school in 30 years. A new superintendent & new principal (previously a 17-year band director!) who are strong, VOCAL arts advocates. A great, collaborative arts ed faculty that this year has added International Thespian Society and National Honor Society for Dance Arts so we have honor societies in all 4 arts disciplines (joining Tri M begun in 2008 and National Art Honor Society in 2007). New public student art work installations. First students attending All-State Chorus and first All-County Chorus. Collaboration, visible results, public pride, encouraging and applauding student efforts, Communicating constantly, inviting parent/community/professional participation--it's all tied up together.

Stephen Hurley's picture
Stephen Hurley
Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman

It sounds like Newton's First Law of Motion is rally at work here. I hope that you might have time to share some more details of how you got the ball rolling...literally!!!


Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher

I've heard this from students all year! Talk about a telling sign that the arts are alive in my school! When I started 7 years ago, there was no drama department. Three years ago, I decided to have a play. It was such a success and the kids just loved it. They can't wait to find out what the next play is going to be. I have fun keeping it a "secrete" for a while!

This year, I'm having the kids create a musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. They'll choose the music that fits the scenes and make it more up-to-date. I've just unveiled the secrete and some students are already picking out the music and vying for parts - and we haven't even had auditions yet!


Stephen Hurley's picture
Stephen Hurley
Grade Eight Teacher, Group Moderator, Facilitator/teacher arts@newman

Hi Erika,

I think that the energy created around this type of work is both inspirational and life-giving. For many students, especially those that might not excel in other extra-curricular ventures, plays and musicals, choirs and bands can be the reason they come to school.

Good luck with the production, and keep us posted on the progress!


Carol Parker's picture
Carol Parker
7/8 Drama, Film, Honors & Regular Language Arts

What city, state are you in?
Baldwiin Park, Ca

@creativityassoc's picture
Director, Education Division, Creativity & Associates

I visit a lot of schools. I know if the arts are important in that building based on the walls. When you walk into a school building that is covered in art work and posters announcing performances, you know immediately that the arts are celebrated there. When you walk into a stark, cold school building with "institutional" colors on the walls, you know that the building doesn't think the arts are important. Artwork on the wall is the "chirping canary" that lets you know the "oxygen" level of the arts is good.

Joan Chantler's picture
Joan Chantler
Title 1 reading teacher/director, Spanish I & II

Hello - 4.5 million arts wing, oh my! I count myself lucky to have a stage at one end of the gym. I've voluntarily done plays a few times. THe kids love it and always ask when the next one is. But I have no in school time to do it and it totally WEARS ME OUT. How do I honor their enthusiasm without wrecking myself? Any ideas?

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