Maine Arts Education Day at the Capitol a success

BY MORGAN ROGERS

April 7th, 2014 

Student representatives of the National Art Honor Society at Mount Desert Island High School

Student representatives of the National Art Honor Society at Mount Desert Island High School

Arts Education Day, held at the state capital on April 2, 2014 by the Maine Alliance for Arts and Education (MAAE), was well attended success for arts education.

The event was organized by MAAE’s Executive Director, Peter Alexander, to show appreciation for art educators and to bring attention to the importance of supporting the arts in Maine school systems.

Representative Mary Nelson announced the Joint Resolution commemorating Arts Education Day and honored awardees.

“This morning we declared that Wednesday, April 2nd is Arts Education Day for the state of Maine and we are here to honor several arts educators,” said Nelson. “Arts educators work everyday to deal with our students to help them use all sides of their brain.”

The day began with a performance by the Bangor Area Children’s Choir, conducted by Robert Ludwig, then opened up for legislators and community members to visit booths of various High School arts and music programs, and finished with speeches and an award ceremony.

Bangor Area Children’s Choir

Bangor Area Children’s Choir

Gloria Hewett, Mount View middle School art educator, was awarded the “Distinguished School Leadership Award.” The “Bill Bonyun Artist/Educator Award” was presented to Suzanne Goulet, a Waterville Senior High School art educator. The “Certificate of Appreciation” went to Emily Bean of Bangor.

The message of the event, to show the importance and benefits of students having access to an arts education, was made clear throughout the day.

“Common statistics show us that the arts are components to an overall better student,” said Zachary Fisher, student representative of the MAAE board. “Students who take over a year of classes pertaining to the arts have on average better attendance rates, less discipline reports, higher grade point averages, higher graduation rates, and higher standardized test scores.”

MAAE had a booth promoting their latest program, “Building Community Through the Arts (BCTA).” BCTA was developed in response to the Columbine tragedy in order to break down social barriers and cliques between students in high school classrooms. The program engages classrooms over a two-week period to create and perform a dance or theater piece.

The Hall of Flags was filled with everyone from arts education supporters, art nonprofit representatives, community members, legislators, to art and music students.

“I am personally a huge believer in supporting arts education and making sure arts education can be as strong as it possibly can be in every single school across the state,” said Julie Richard, Executive director of the Maine Arts Commission.

Students and arts educators from various High Schools stood ready at their booths to discuss their particular art program.

One such booth present was the National Art Honor Society at Mount Desert Island High School, an art program, led by art educator Charlie Johnson. The students discussed their art program, which has two components.

The first focus of the program is to expose the rest of the student body to the arts through a series of publicly visible and community engaging projects, making arts education more accessible for all. The other component is to allow students to develop themselves as artists by giving them opportunities to display their work in various shows and at the school gallery.

“It is really fun. It just adds to the experience for any of us who are planning on going to careers in art to learn how to set up a gallery opening,” said Nellie LaValle, a student in the National Art Honor Society at Mount Desert.

For many of these students music and art is their life and they are looking for future careers in the arts.

Katie Osman, a Senior and member of the Jazz Ensemble in Nakomis Regional High’s Show Choir, has been playing percussion since 4th grade and will be pursuing a Music Education major next year at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham.

A conference on “Building Community Through the Arts” will be held Wednesday, April 9th at the Church of Universal Fellowship in Orono.

MAAE’s mission is “to promote and advocate for arts, culture, and educational excellence in visual art, music, theater, dance, and writing in all Maine schools and communities.”