Does Sacred Heart Promote or Overlook the Arts?

I think we can all agree that Sacred Heart is known for its rigorous academics and strict curriculum, especially when it comes to math and science. But what are the course options for the more artsy students? Extracurricular activities? Does Sacred Heart offer enough variety? How does the art and music program at Sacred Heart compare to other private schools in the area? While many students may benefit from these offered math and science courses, not everyone wants to necessarily pursue a STEM-based career. Art and design careers are becoming more and more widespread. From fashion design to art therapy, the possibilities are endless. I believe it is important to encourage those students who may want to consider pursuing a creative profession and provide them with the opportunities to do so.

One of the main aspects that attracted me initially to Sacred Heart was the outstanding musicals they produce year after year. I have always been interested in the performing and fine arts, including, dance, singing, acting, and painting. Although the fall musical is extensively promoted and is supported through the yearly ad campaign, the remainder of the arts seem to go unnoticed and are often overlooked. The spring drama and prism for example, get little to no promotion at all. Ms. Papa, Fine Arts Teacher, speaks on the topic. “The musical gets so much exposure and attention, but the spring play—written by our very own students this year doesn’t seem as widely known by the general population. I hope that events like coffee house, spring concerts, the spring play, the film festival (May 7) will be well attended and talked about!” Extensive amounts of effort are put in by students in order for the spring play, coffee house, spring concerts, and festivals to take place. All of the students involved are extremely passionate about the arts and deserve recognition for their talents and hard work. In addition to barely receiving any credit for their talents, these students are implicitly being put down time and time again. Recently, Sacred Heart has been rewarding students that attend sports events by providing them with dress down days or even free tee shirts. Yet, when it comes to art events there is little publicity or support.

Sacred Heart offers a total of 14 art courses. While this may seem like a decent selection, Hamden Hall, a private school with almost the same population of students, offers 27. Likewise, Mercy High School, which is frequently compared to Sacred Heart, offers 17 different art related courses, some of which include Fashion Design, Game Design, and 3D Animation. Lastly, Choate Rosemary Hall, a private school in Wallingford, offers a total of 61 different art classes. That is five times as many options as we have!!

Ms. Papa explains her opinion on art course selection options. “I think that for students looking to get exposure to the arts, we have great opportunities. Between myself, Ms. DelVecchio, Mrs. M, and Mrs. Delaney we offer a range of courses that help students discover a love of the arts. I wish that we had more opportunities for students to further explore their love of the arts. After students take introductory courses, it can be discouraging to find a path forward. Without courses like Digital Photography II or Painting II, for example, students don’t have an easy time continuing to hone their craft. On one hand, it’s nice that students who are drawn to the arts, in order to continue taking art classes, must diversify their interests and maybe take a class that they wouldn’t have been inclined to otherwise.  On the other hand, I do wish that students who intend to pursue the arts in the future had more opportunities in terms of course load.” While Sacred Heart does offer numerous art courses, the variety is where it is clearly lacking. Those interested in photography, for example, are constricted to only one class. Whereas, other schools offer several courses surrounding that field.

In addition to future career possibilities, art offers many further benefits for students. Mrs. DelVecchio, Fine Arts Educator, speaks on the topic, “I am a strong supporter of the Arts in our school. Many studies show that students benefit from taking art classes during their day as it promotes higher level thinking.” Art is a fantastic stress reliever, and is especially valued due to the large amounts of anxiety we as students face daily. Many schools are actually cutting out their art programs in order to improve budgets and equalize playing fields. Although this fortunately is not the case at Sacred Heart, it could easily become a reality. Morgan Dubay, Senior, shares her opinion on the issue, “Art class is a great release for high school students especially due to the stress they endure daily. Being able to relax your mind after a long day of learning in class is super beneficial to productivity and mental health. There should be more art classes offered at Sacred Heart to promote creativity, self-expression, and help future careers.” After a long day of difficult classes, I think it is so important to provide students with a variety of art classes. It undoubtedly relieves built up stress and anxiety, promotes creativity, and improves overall mental health.

Everyone should feel valued for their talents, whether you are gifted at science or have a passion for music. We need more artists in this world in order to see new perspectives, share ideas, and help express emotions. Although I am a senior and change would not benefit me personally at this point, future SHA students deserve programs that will help boost their career, no matter what path they ultimately chose. My hope is that this article brings awareness to some of the issues occurring and that Sacred Heart may improve their art course selection and promotion in the near future.