As a member of the OAHS band, the arts program is something near and dear to my heart. Though limited to just music, my experience with the arts has been one that has shaped me. However, even when I hear the cheers of my fellow students after performances, I know the arts don’t have the full support of the school.
Our school seems to love performances from the band, dance team or choir. I know that when I perform in the band at football games or rallies, the student body always cheers loudly for us. This love, however, does not necessarily translate into support. All the arts programs at Orcutt Academy have to fight for funds and other support from the school and district.
I do more fundraising for band than I do for any sport that I play, which really makes no sense: my teams travel to multiple games and tournaments throughout the season, while band has just one competition every year. People are willing to pay to watch a weekly football game, but sometimes it feels like pulling teeth to get students to buy tickets to a biannual drama production, or attend a free band or choir concert. That’s not to mention that there’s a percentage of people going to football games to see the band, choir, dance, or cheer team perform, while all the money from ticket sales goes to the athletic program. While this is true for most schools, maybe it shouldn’t be.
One issue is a lack of facilities. It’s no secret that OAHS is lacking in facilities in many ways. We are a high school on an elementary school campus; we’re bound to have issues regarding facilities. However, this lack of facilities not only forces the arts programs to fight for a spot of their own, they have to essentially fight against each other to gain these spots.
The school band has found its home in four different rooms in the past four years, two of which were located on the Orcutt Junior High School campus. The current band room, Room 31, used to be the art room, is shared with choir and robotics, and other performing arts groups had their eye on the room as well. One art program gaining something means another loses it, which not only shows the lack of support from the school for the arts programs but can lead to a lack of support among the arts programs as well.
In a world where the arts struggle for support to begin with, support between arts programs is crucial for success.
Students often have to choose between arts programs. Not only do students have a lack of elective spots for them to be able to fill with arts classes, the school also schedules different arts programs at the same time. In the past, band and choir have been the same period, and band and drama are currently both offered first period, causing students to have to choose between one or the other.
Another unfortunate scheduling problem comes from students having to choose between taking academic or art classes. In order to continue to take band and Journalism, I couldn’t take a math class this year, and this issue affects other students as well. With so many classes only offered one period of the day, the school needs to find a better way to organize them so students don’t have to sacrifice so much.
The arts are never valued as much as academic classes. There are always arguments that the arts won’t help students as much in the long run for careers or college. However, I can confidently say that no academic class has taught me more than what I have learned in band.
Band has taught me skills that I will be able to use in everyday life. It has taught me leadership skills, personal responsibility, and to do whatever it takes to accomplish my goals. More than anything else, band has taught me the value of putting time and energy into succeeding at what I really love.
The school does an excellent job cheering on the arts programs, but when it comes down to it, the arts are truly undervalued at Orcutt Academy.