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Grissom column: Elementary arts programs tap young minds

Arts education programs have been a target for major cuts across North Carolina and the United States as school systems face budget reductions and increased requirements for the No Child Left Behind legislation. In the Rowan-Salisbury School System, emphasis on the arts is a very important part of the education of our students. The arts are essential to every child’s education.
Arts education programs are part of a balanced curriculum in educating the “whole child.” Research studies indicate that programs in the arts help students make connections with other subjects across the curriculum and appeal to the different intelligence through which children learn.
Programs in the arts are able to promote learning, achievement, and the development of cognitive skills needed in mastering reading, writing and mathematics. Experiences with the arts develop intuition, sensitivity, reasoning, imagination and dexterity.
Some studies indicate that experiences in the arts increase school attendance and educational aspirations.
The Rowan-Salisbury School system provides 14 art and 14 music specialists for 20 elementary schools. Kindergarteners through fifth graders receive instruction from these specialists weekly. Art and music specialists, as well as classroom teachers, plan and deliver lessons based on specific state goals and objectives.
Besides weekly arts and music instruction, systemwide activities and events provide additional support. Some of these events and activities are:
– Elementary Music Festival that allows fifth grade Honors Chorus students to work with a choral clinician in preparation for a public performance (sponsored by the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation).
– The Salisbury Symphony Mini-Concerts, small ensemble mini-concerts, provided for third and fourth grade students.
– All-County Fifth Grade Honors Chorus performs annually with the Salisbury Symphony.
– The N.C. Symphony visits and performs for all fifth graders.
– After School Strings program is offered at several elementary sites for grades three through five (sponsored by the Symphony Guild and Margaret C. Woodson Foundation).
– Elementary Student Art Exhibit allows art projects from students in all elementary schools to be exhibited at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center.
– Annual Student Art Show, sponsored by The Carolina Artists, is an event each year where art projects are exhibited at the Salisbury Civic Center.
– Visits to Waterworks Visual Arts Center n field trip tour of the center.
– Stories by the Millstream. Second grade students attend a story-telling festival at Sloan Park sponsored by the Friends of the Library.
– Piedmont Players Youth Theatre. This year second- and third-grade students enjoyed the play based on a piece of children’s literature. All fourth- and fifth-grade students attend a Youth Theatre Shakespeare Production.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System is fortunate to have such a strong emphasis on the arts in our community and great community support for providing valuable experiences for our students. Arts education is alive and well in the elementary schools in Rowan County!
(Next article: Arts education in middle and high school)
– – –
Dr. Judy Grissom is superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School System.

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