When thinking back on high school, those of a certain age may remember a much different curriculum then the one that exists today for students in the public education system.
Of course, the basic elements of math, English, history and science still remain, but the emphasis on mastering skills reflective of times gone by, such as a grasp of classic literature and an appreciation of the arts, have slowly slipped into the background.
Now, the emphasis is on STEM courses - science, technology, engineering and math - with an eye toward careers in fields that require these skills including jobs in the computer industry, the medical field and scientific research to name a few.
While educators may see the practicality and the benefits for students to excel in STEM courses, there is still a need for students to have at least a passing knowledge of the classics. This is why art and music, theater and dance are still important. Some local school districts see the benefits of the arts in school as well and are adding and improving the opportunities from the elementary level through high school.
New Britain High School takes the arts seriously. The marching band, concert choir and the student orchestra all have a high-level of student involvement and success. The marching band has grown so large in fact, band director Justin Carlin told The Herald, music programs will be added next year.
In Bristol, visual arts programs are thriving. Local middle and high school students earned 13 awards in the 2018 Connecticut Regional Scholastic Art awards competition, The Press reported.
Still, other districts like Berlin offer arts programs but are struggling under budget constraints to keep the programs going.
Unfortunately, when deciding where to cut costs, school boards usually target sports and arts programs first.
We recognize that the reality of today’s society means graduates will most likely seek jobs in health and high-tech fields. However, an appreciation of the arts will certainly enrich the lives of students fortunate enough to have arts-based classes and clubs offered to them.
When it comes to educating youngsters, money should never be an obstacle.