Preserve The Arts


Khadejah Neal, Staff Reporter

On October 28, a town hall meeting was called to preserve the arts. The meeting was held in the cafeteria of Norristown Area High School (NAHS) and was filled with faculty, student, principals, parents, school board members, along with art and music teachers from the 12 schools in the district. The meeting was planned to discuss what music and arts have to offer and the future of the programs in the district.

According to Brendan Wills of The Times Herald, Norristown Area School District (NASD) was given a budget of $142,370,350 for the 2015- 2016 school year. With this budget came some hard decisions, so the school board had to arrange ways to make the budget work, which resulted in the elimination of one art teacher, one music teacher, and one physical education teacher.

The meeting began with a serenade by the wonderful string players of NAHS. Then each department presented a video to explain each program. The videos were about 10 minutes long and featured the students and teachers of NASD. Teachers expressed gratitude for having a job where they get to teach students how to tap into their creativity alongside enthusiastic colleagues. Original student artwork was highlighted in the presentations as well.

During the question and answer session that followed, a proud father whose daughter goes to Stewart Middle School began to speak about his life. He explained that he was valedictorian of his class, but chose to go to art school because that’s where his passion lies. This is just one of the many memorable stories from the night.

The crowd expressed concern over the future of the music department, particularly the marching band.  The crowd was very frustrated because that haven’t seen representation of the district’s music program at any game this season. However the “Jazz Band”, made up of high school and middle school students   from East Norriton did perform at the homecoming game last Saturday. Dr. Samuel believes this is a work in progress and in order to have music participation in other events they need to be supported from the community and it’s students.

Teachers cited evidence that music builds confidence and creativity in every child. The teachers enjoy working in NASD and the students enjoy studying music and art. The educators went on to emphasize that every child needs access to success. Some may not excel in math and reading, yet art and music may develop their taste for success. During the discussion, the department liaisons explained that every child deserves to shine in their own light and that is what these classes teach and do. Lack of support for these programs means less funding for putting on shows, buying supplies, and advancing in technology that is reflective of the current industry standards. Ultimately the teachers stressed that students shouldn’t be robbed of the joy related to performing and displaying their work.

Anyone in the NASD community can help to sustain the art and music programs by buying shirts from Dr. Kirker currently on sale for $6, attending town hall meetings, and most importantly being present at the many galleries and performances held throughout the year.  These small shows of support demonstrate that there is an audience to appreciate student work and growth in the creative arts.