Art is not dead, not yet, anyway

New Trier News Staff

When we were all in middle school, playing an instrument or preforming in a school play was not an oddity. Furthermore, an art class was part of our every day curriculum—with students having a designated art, drama, or music class at least once a day. This trend of allocated art time ended in high school. Participation in art class was 100% because it was mandatory, but according to data provided by Assistant Principal Gerry Munley, participation in New Trier fine arts is lower than 60%, showing the overall participation in these classes drops in high school.
This drop is not due to our lack of interest. New Trier students still enjoy art as seen from the popularity of going to see Lagniappe and the high enrollment in Lit Film classes—which is studying the art of filmmaking. Even the clubs with their aesthetically designed posters show students’ affinity for art.
Though there are signs all throughout the school of our artistic nature, not many students participate in a theater, art, dance, or musics classes. Previously all groups of students participated in art because it was mandatory; now only certain groups of students take part in these activities.
This has created a divide in the student body: the athletes, the academics, and the artists. Now of course, New Trier students are very fluid in their interest with many overlapping into two interest groups. But having active involvement in the three groups is close to impossible.
The competitive environment of New Trier and the lack of time in the day make art classes second hand priorities for some students. Students, including many on this editorial staff, are often forced to choose between athletes, academics, and art. But with this athletically and academically competitive school, arts are often put on the back burner.
The days of designated art time, to be creative, use imagination, and unwind from the stresses of academic life, are behind us. Though this is a depressing thought, New Trier administrators do not need to create a designated art time—parents and children alike would throw a coup if art time took away from “important class.”
No, this decline in art in high school should not guilt students in to taking art classes, but it should make us appreciate student art more. For the students that continued to play an instrument, continued to take art classes after their arts requirement was filled, the students who take early bird to fit in all their theater courses, and the students who create a band with their friends and rehearse for hours after school, they have survived the threat of academic and athletic pressures trying to steal their art time. And despite these pressures, they continue to pursue their passions. Their determination and passion is inspiring and should be looked at in awe. And the work that they produce should be appreciated and marveled.
The student body should focus more on the artist, just as we focus on the Friday night athletes. For a student artist, just like athletes, donate 100 of hours and refine their skills to produce: a piece of art. Just as Green Team appears for every football, basketball, and soccer game, they should make an effort to show up for every concert, musical, and art show. The student body must show support for all its diverse and talented students.