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Grissom column: Youths who study art more likely to achieve

Students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System can continue their interest in cultural arts in the middle and high schools through excellent band, choral, visual arts and drama programs. There is an increasing national focus that recognizes the importance of developing skills of the imagination to prepare students for success in the 21st century.
The Champions of Change report states that students who participate in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement; four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair; three times more often to be elected to class office within their schools; and three times more likely to win an award for school attendance. An understanding and an appreciation for the arts is an important aspect of our students’ future.
Research by Dr. Robert Sternberg, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University, shows that imagination is as important as intelligence to a person’s success in life. He says that analytical skills are not enough, but that imagination and stretching original thinking lead to the critical thinking skills and creativity needed to solve problems, invent and find innovative approaches to business, technology, science, medicine and engineering. Further, he states that creative people are more successful, fulfilled and happy. They are more likely to demonstrate responsibility and leadership. Teachers must prepare students to be creative and help them to build creative thinking skills.
Valuable electives
Empirical evidence over the last 10-plus years clearly indicates that arts involvement shows a consistent and significant correlation with higher SAT test results. Students in the arts scored an average of 82 points higher every year than their non-arts counterparts. Involvement in the arts goes hand-in-hand with better SAT scores, and the more years of involvement, the greater the gains. (The College Board, Profile of College-Bound Seniors, National Report)
As students move from the elementary schools, visual arts and music opportunities become options for middle school students in Rowan County. Each middle school has a visual arts teacher, a choral director and a band director. Students choose to participate in these classes as an elective. If a student is not exposed to the arts courses, it is because he or she chooses the career-technical education courses instead. All students take PE/health as the second elective at each grade level.
At the high school level, students choose from a large array of programs. Besides the regular courses in the cultural arts, the school system offers honors arts courses in studio art, vodal music, band and theatre arts. Advanced Placement courses are offered in studio art and music theory.
Besides opportunities in their individual class selections at their schools, students have district opportunities for band, choral and visual arts events. Some of the events available are:
Annual Band District Events:
– All-County Middle School Band Workshop and Concert
– All-County High School Band Workshop and Concert
Annual Choral District Events:- All-County Middle School Chorus Workshop and Concert
– All-County High School Chorus Workshop and Concert
Annual Visual Arts District Events:
– Student Art Expo K-12, hosted by the Carolina Artists at the Salisbury Civic Center
– Waterworks Art Gallery Student Art Show and Reception
Beyond the classroom
Many students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System participate in community events, such as festivals and parades, state competitions and even national competitions. These competitions provide excellent opportunities for students to network with other students, but also a chance to receive recognition outside the school system for their hard work. Students and teachers give extra time and effort in order to be prepared for the challenges of competition.
The various cultural art courses offered in the Rowan-Salisbury School System are challenging subjects with rigorous content and achievement standards. They provide for a high level of student engagement. Educators in our school system recognize the powerful link between the arts and learning. Arts Education is also alive and well in the middle and high schools in Rowan County.
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Dr. Judy Grissom is superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools System.

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